3D medical, food, fashion and lastly architecture

 

 

 

3D printing-
How it is going to save the world..?

(with
specific application to disaster relief)

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Matthew Smith

The
University of Hertfordshire

BSC(Hons)
Industrial Design

Degree Essay:
6CTA1075

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Introduction

With the birth
of 3D printing in the early 80’s, the emerging technology has struggled
to find its way within mainstream manufacturing that is
still highly dominated by the demand of mass production through means
such as injection moulding. However, 3D printing has proven an asset within specific
niche’s throughout industries. A few of these include
medical, food, fashion and lastly architecture and disaster relief.  

Disaster aid as a whole has it’s
limitations. As disasters are usually unique and unpredictable, it makes it
very hard to properly prepare and respond efficiently. The
difficulties come from the time it takes to gather the appropriate resources and
funding that the effected zone needs, in time to make a difference to those in
need.  The Application of 3D printing
within disaster relief is small and very specified. NGO’s such as Field Ready with
3D printing small useful parts that have been broken or are in high demand.

 However, the same limitations still apply to
these scenarios. The amount of time it take to get a printer to a zone along
with the appropriate resources still holds the same problems. However, the
ability to print on sight and to demand, means more raw materials can be
shipped as is and manufactured at the area of effect. Specifically within
shelters the bed of the print as well as the structural integrity is not good
enough to replace that of a temporary shelter such as a tent or shanty town

These issues cannot be fixed with the
current availability of technology that is possessed today. However with the
growth of applications such as carbon fibre printing, and the possible future
of a shift from mass manufacturing to 3D printing may cause a chain reaction
towards a more realisable and cost effective solution to the ability to print
effective structures.

Chapter 1

Within its current state, 3D printing
housing structures is a concept that’s been heavily explored in the recent years.
The push towards alternative construction methods can be demonstrated world
wide through the use of current ongoing projects.

With structures such as the Dutch Canal House funded by an international team
of partners. This experimental project set out to push the limits of what is
possible with 3D printing in regards to architecture, it’s referred to in the
description of their website
” A
beta-preneurial building project, which has the goal to revolutionize
the building industry and offer new tailor made housing solutions
worldwide.”.  This project separates itself from the regular construction
methods of prefabricated concreate with the appeal of customisable structure
for the user, without the added expense and labour needed in traditional methods.
The same can be said about wastage and transport costs. As structures can be
built on site there is no expenses on specific tooling or transport making it
better for the environment as well as cheaper for the production costs.

 However on the other side
of this, trying to maintain a quality building that complies with the
prevailing regulations of safety standards, such as the following; “insulation, fireproofing, wind loads, foundations…these, as
well as the possible materials to print with (using this printer) are all
things that are being researched and investigated”. These
restraints are currently what’s holding this project back, further research and
funding is underway to find solutions to these problems.

The current technology
that makes their vision realisable, “The XL 3D Printer” is what they refer to as an upscaled
version of the Ultimaker (A common desktop 3D
printer that works by printing layer by layer). The current materials they are using
and developing are bioplastics.  “We aim to print with a material
that is sustainable, of biological origin, melts at a relatively low
temperature, and of course is sturdy and stable.”  – Q5 of FAQ in . They are currently printing
with a material developed by Hankel, that consists of 80% vegetable oil called
Macromelt. It seems the main intent for this project is to prove you can build
a better more sustainable house, with greater efficiency both in price and time;
while still maintaining a structure that does not comprise practicality or
style.  

 

Another Good example
of the current capabilities of 3D printing design structures is also based in Amsterdam. This project driven by Eindhoven University of
Technology, proves that the
physical limits of 3D printing can compete with that of regular manufacturing techniques.
The construction of a 3D printed concreate bridge, according to an interview article
in the Guardian “has some 800 layers, took about three months
after starting in June and it is made of reinforced, pre-stressed concrete”. In
parallel to the previously stated Dutch Canal House,  this project helps eliminate excess material wastage
by only printing what is needed, while still maintaining its vital structural
integrity. A very similar project to this is a 3D printed bridge built by MX3D, a technology driven startup company, attempting to also prove the physical limits
of 3D printing can compete with that of regular manufacturing techniques, not
just in concrete. This bridge underwent multiple design phases
and experiments. These included 3D printing with steel, a process that combines
welding with an old manufacturing robots hardware, and further sophisticated
programming to accomplish a working steel 3D printer. Essentially making
aluminium extrusions and manual welding within bridge making obsolete. This
project is trying to create a bridge from scratch, that will build itself on
site using these robots. This project is particularly interesting as it eliminates
the need for manual labour, where the other two examples still require some
degree of assembly. Aside from the designer(s)/engineer(s) that programmed and
created the bridges printable file. No labour is needed in the construction of
the structure. 

 

Besides
the Netherlands, a leading country in 3D printing is China. Currently Chinese company
HuaShang Tengda have managed to 3D print a two story, four hundred square meter
house in approximately a month and a half. The process consists of building a
frame with all the pluming and electronics housed within, then the building is
printed around the frame with their large duel nozzle printer. The material
used is nothing new, as stated in the article outlining HuaShang Tengda’s project, “The printing material itself is ordinary Class C30 concrete, an
extremely tough, durable yet inexpensive material, and HuaShang Tengda
states that any cement material can be used with the process, so that other
construction firms can take advantage of what is locally available. 

 

WinSun

 

Now that
the current state of 3d printing for shelters and in disaster zones has been
explore lets look at the current limitations that effect these from moving further
towards a realisable solution.