Additive manufacturing (AM), also known as 3D printing, fabricates components in a layerwise fashion directly from a digital file. Many of the early applications of AM technologies have been in the aerospace, automotive, and healthcare industries. Building on the advances in AM in these industries, there are several experimental applications of AM in the construction sector. Early investigations suggest that use of AM technologies for construction have the potential to decrease labor costs, reduce material waste, and create customized complex geometries that are difficult to achieve using conventional construction techniques. However, these initial investigations do not cover the full range of potential applications for construction or exploit the rapidly maturing AM technologies for a variety of material types. This paper provides an up-to-date review of AM as it relates to the construction industry, identifies the trend of AM processes and materials being used, and discusses related methods of implementing AM and potential advancements in applications of AM. Examples of potential advancements include use of multi-materials (e.g., use of high-performance materials only in areas where they are needed), in-situ repair in locations that are difficult or dangerous for humans to access, disaster relief construction in areas with limited construction workforce and material resources, structural and non-structural elements with optimized topologies, and customized parts of high value. AM's future in the construction industry is promising, but interdisciplinary research is still needed to provide new materials, new processes, faster printing, quality assurance, and data on mechanical properties before AM can realize its full potential in infrastructure construction.
Automation in Construction – Elsevier
Published: May 1, 2018
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