Risks and Benefits of 3D Printing in the Construction Industry | Shutts & Bowen LLP

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The use of 3D printing in commercial and residential projects is gaining popularity in the construction industry. While the benefits may seem endless, there are still risks to consider before this technology becomes mainstream in the United States.

Awards

  • Significant potential for environmentally friendly construction and waste reduction projects.
  • Much shorter construction periods in an industry where delays can be disruptive and costly, this can provide an opportunity to expedite the construction of projects.
  • Health and safety risks are reduced thanks to the ease of manufacture of the 3D printer.
  • Labor costs will be reduced as the printer is more efficient and can also save up to 60% of construction material cost.
  • Could enable custom projects that are either impossible or too expensive with conventional methods.

Risks

  • Other manufacturers and companies in the industry could suffer if the 3D printer is able to produce their items at a lower cost.
  • Less labor required thanks to the efficiency of the 3D printer, especially in times of inflation and recession.
  • Need specially skilled workers to use 3D printer functions.
  • Misprints of materials could prove costly during construction, and replacement items could be more expensive if needed at short notice.
  • Potentially expensive to repair if the 3D printer becomes unusable/broken.

Assessing these benefits and risks, at least one US state has approved far-reaching measures for the construction of commercial and residential properties using 3D printing. Specifically, Montana recently spearheaded an effort to give broad regulatory approval to 3D printing walls as a replacement for walls fabricated with concrete masonry units or a standard core concrete block assembly for all types of projects. construction in the state. As for Florida, in 2021 the City of Tallahassee approved the 3D printing of a single-family home under the City of Tallahassee Affordable Housing Construction Loan Program. However, no other general measures such as regulatory approvals appear to be in place at this time. Despite growing interest in 3D-printed single-family homes in the state, it’s expected homebuyers will have to wait a few more years before 3D-printed homes become mainstream enough for real change to occur. . As noted above, 3D printed construction in Florida may grow in popularity due to cost-cutting measures, efficiency, and increased safety, but Florida may have unique concerns that may not be relevant. do not apply to states such as Montana. Specifically, more stringent building code requirements covering hurricanes, high-velocity winds, and/or flooding may hamper the popularity of 3D printing at this time. Otherwise, the above risks and benefits will need to be critically evaluated by Florida regulatory authorities in the coming years.

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