How 3D Printing is Being Used in Civil Engineering

3D printing, also known as additive manufacturing, has been one of the most interesting and impactful technologies to come out of the early 21st century, and few fields are as poised to take advantage of this game-changing technology as civil engineering. When you can scale this tech up and start manufacturing homes and buildings, you can literally change the layout of the land.

3D printing generic stock image courtesy of Shutterstock

Image courtesy of Shutterstock

A Few Advantages of 3D Printing in Civil Engineering

One of the most valuable advantages of 3D printing in this field is faster construction by employing a quick drying cement, so a simple building may be erected and set within hours. When civil engineering companies pair their expertise with this tech, the lines between form and function can be blurred and truly marvelous structures can be created. Buildings can now be designed and crafted to combine a broader variety of functions, including cooling or heating features, and neater integration into the buildings’ surroundings. 3D printing is also being used to assist in day-to-day operations, like printing simple mountings for existing equipment to be utilized in alternate ways, saving on the need to buy whole new pieces of equipment. 

Reduction of Waste and Construction Costs

There are very few construction projects that can boast 0% waste once the doors are open. Civil engineers can use 3D printing to produce next to no excess waste during a construction project by using computer aided drawing (CAD) and large-scale industrial concrete 3D printers. They can plot out exactly where, what, and how much they are going to pour, with more complex geometries, in a faster time frame, and at lower labor costs than traditional construction techniques. The time and manpower saved through 3D printed construction is remarkable, and the continued progress in this field should continue to help lower these costs. 

3D Printing and the End of Our Road Woes

Road transportation is one of the most important methods for transferring ourselves and our goods across countries and some continents. Improvements in asphalt, tar, and concrete roads are being quickly made by engineers through 3D printing. Researchers have recently discovered a method to 3D print asphalt that shows the promise of being more ductile than traditionally laid asphalt. One of their biggest hurdles was that asphalt acts like a non-Newtonian fluid when passing through the end of the extruder. Once they overcame that obstacle, they were able to tailor the method of 3D printing asphalt to be able to cast complex roads and be able to repair damage and fractures in the asphalt. This has paved the way toward autonomous road repair through the use of drones, scanning, and 3D printing technology. 

3D printing is by far one of the more accessible and game-changing technologies to emerge recently, and with many of the engineering fields paying close attention, it is a technology that is quickly reshaping our world. For the civil engineers working closely with this tech, this means a whole new world. Tall structures can go up in hours, cheaper and more durable highways and roads can be built, and it affords a greater creative license than ever before.