3D- Printing 

General Definition

3D Printing and Additive Manufacturing are similar and generic terms used to describe “technologies that based on a geometrical representation creates physical objects by successive addition of material. These technologies are presently used for various applications in the engineering industry as well as other areas of society, such as medicine, education, architecture, cartography, toys and entertainment.” (BS ISO/ASTM 52900-15, 2015).

Other terms, for instance Rabid Prototyping, have been also used to describe similar processes that aim at solidified products through material deposition in layers. The development of such techniques has been started since 1980s, for instance in the work by Kodama (1981), where a first example of 3D Printing by “exposing liquid photo-hardening polymer to ultraviolet rays” and by “stacking the cross-sectional solidified layers” was investigated.

During 3D Printing evolution other techniques have been also developed that include among others Selective Laser Sintering (SLS), Inkjet Powder Printing and Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM) (Wu et al, 2016). Fields of application include among others aerospace and automotive industry, engineering, architecture, art, education, medicine, etc. (Graffar et al., 2018) for the development of parts and entire structures in real scale but also for the development of prototypes in smaller scales.

The last few decades the application of 3D Printing has been expanded to include the construction sector due to the advantages that can bring towards a more sustainable construction industry, aiming at material reduction, freedom in production of any form, etc. (Kontovourkis, 2021; Camacho et al, 2017). Also, 3D Printing can be leveraged towards multi-sensorial experiences in the field of cultural heritage through 3D production of tactile models used in museums for educational and learning purposes (Neumüller et al, 2014).

As can be seen from the application examples, 3D Printing technology offers great application possibilities in education due to sustainable and multi-sensorial opportunities that offer, which can lead to the production and appreciation of any 3D shape and structure.


Built Architectural/ Urban Design Project Example

TECLA 3D printed habitat

This example is an imaginary project realized by WASP 3D Printing company and Mario Cucinella Architects. The aim is the development of a 3D printed habitat consisting of innovative ecological houses. This will allow low cost housing opportunities and reduction of construction time in areas with rising populations. In order to achieve this a large-scale 3D Printing technique is applied with the parallel use of reusable and recycle clay-based material (3dWasp, 2020).

3dWasp. (2020). Available from: https://www.3dwasp.com/en/3d-printed-house-tecla/. Accessed: 29/07/2021.


3D Printing and Sagrada Familia restoration

This example discusses the application of 3D Printing technology for the accurate physical development of 3D prototypes of complex shapes designed by Antoni Gaudi. This allows representation of initial shapes and further investigation and decision-making regarding restoration of the Sagrada Familia.

How 3D Printing is Changing Architecture: Learning from the Sagrada Familia Team in Barcelona (2015). Available from: https://i.materialise.com/blog/en/how-3d-printing-is-changing-architecture-learning-from-the-sagrada-familia-team-in-barcelona

BS ISO/ASTM 52900: 2015. Additive manufacturing – General principles – Terminology.

Camacho D. D., Clayton P., O’Brien W., Ferron R., Juenger M., Salamone S. and Seepersad C. (2017). Application of additive manufacturing in the construction industry – A prospective review. In Proceedings of the 34th ISARC, Taipei, Taiwan.

Ghaffar, S.H., Corker, J. & Fan, M. (2018). Additive manufacturing technology and its implementation in construction as an ecoinnovative solution. Automation in Construction, 93, 1-11.

Kodama, H. (1981). Automatic method for fabricating a three-dimensional plastic model with photohardening polymer. Review of Scientific Instruments. 52 (11), 1770-1773.

Kontovourkis, O. (2021). 3D Printing Technology within a Regenerative Construction Framework. In M.B. Andreucci, A. Marvuglia, M. Baltov, P. Hansen (Eds.). Rethinking Sustainability Towards a Regenerative Economy, Future City 15 (1st ed., pp. 245-261). Cham: Springer. 

Author: Odysseas Kontovourkis
Assistant Professor, University of Cyprus

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