3D printing – the latest point of connection between the physical & digital worlds – is having a massive impact on a potentially surprising industry: building & construction.
When you break down construction projects, there are three main components: finance, staffing, and materials. 3D printing is showing the potential to greatly affect all three.
First, 3D printing could significantly reduce – if not eliminate – the investment required in bringing construction projects to reality. This can be achieved largely through shorter lead times, fewer resources required to make large-scale project decisions and a potentially massive reduction in resource waste.
Next, 3D printing may well replace certain parts of the labour force required on construction projects. With over 1million people in Australia employed in the building industry, 3D printing can create prototypes of early-stage projects and fulfil small manufacturing orders, which will massively drop the number of builders, electricians and plumbers required. This is the biggest shift seen in the construction industry, for decades.
In terms of materials, 3D printing will offer new prototype opportunities whereby significant components of the manufacturing process will be bypassed – this will put even more power back into the hands of smaller companies, previously unable to compete at scale.
Conversely, whilst also being another positive, 3D printing has the capacity to CREATE jobs, not eliminate the requirement for workers. The concept of Contour Crafting is already live, which enables builders to create massive projects – like ENTIRE homes – creating new jobs. AND, the accessibility & affordability of 3D printers means individuals will be able to create products straight from home – another small business opportunity for passive or primary income. There’s already wind of this trend – a recent Kickstarter campaign to fund small, consumer-focused 3D printing raised over $3m (a mighty leap from its modest goals of $50k).
Thus, the need for 3D printing is already here. And its implications have the capacity to completely change the building & construction industry in the very short-term.