How can 3D printing improve architecture?

The architecture field moves forward thanks to technological advancements. New equipment allows architects to be more creative with their designs. It can also reduce the amount of time that is necessary for modelling and feasibility studies. One of the most powerful devices an architect can use is a 3D printer; with one they can produce accurate models from a number of materials.
At Coffey Architects we understand the array of benefits 3D printing can offer. We invested in our own equipment and use it frequently for modelling different properties, whether it is domestic or commercial architecture. Here we would like to discuss some of the main ways that the technology can help our field.

Explore new concepts

New designs and ideas drive architecture. They can start new trends and lead to huge advances in the entire field. Exploring concepts can be challenging though, especially with the amount of time it takes to draw up and physically create models. 3D printing can produce models much quicker, providing accurate, realistic representations. This provide an excellent reference point and a very useful resource.

Dealing with tricky sites

One of the biggest challenges in architecture at the moment is the lack of large spaces for development in urban areas. This means that focus is on developing smaller sites instead. These could are generally plots that have avoided development previously because of an array of different challenges. With 3D printing it is easier to design a model to suit the specifics of the site. Architects can explore layout options much easier.

Printing buildings and furniture

3D printers have already been responsible for creating entire buildings as well as scale models. This could become even more popular in the future, especially because the pre-fabricated structures can offer great savings and shorter build times. The technology could also create fixtures and fittings. In fact, it would be possible to print them directly into walls and other surfaces.

Commercial architecture

Generally when people think of 3D printing they imagine smaller buildings. The technology has no limitations on the scale though. In Dubai a 20 foot high, 120 foot long printer was used to create an office building. The structure was printed using a cement mixture. It took just 17 days to print and assemble. The building is now used every day.

As you can see the future is very bright for 3D printing. Expect to see more and more uses of the technology in the coming years.