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  • Suzie Lemos

Layer by Layer: The Top Things You Need to Know About 3D Printing

3D printing is currently solving existing industry problems, we’re here to understand the why, how and what. Why is it worthwhile, how the industry is picking up speed and what the future holds for 3D printing in property development.

DUS Architects

Discovered in 1983, Charles Hull encountered 3D printing by accident

Whilst utilising UV light to harden tabletops, Charles innovated the first rapid and solid prototyping technology called stereolithography, known as 3D printing. It occurs when a digital model of an item is produced either by CAD (computer-aided design) or by a 3D scanner.

The printer reads the design and prints it out layer by layer, fusing the item together. In this case, the layers fuse a house together.

Today, 3D printing is a modern proptech development that everyone is talking about, and have finally put to use.

Promising to be faster, cheaper, greener and safer than traditional methods

The automated building will become accessible to anyone in the nearer future. A highly versatile equipment known to combine, mold and shape buildings. 3D printers have the advantage of building more efficiently than traditional construction. Contour Crafting is the latest large-scale 3D printer that’s easily transported, lightweight and generates less waste, cost and time. Scan, download, adjust and print: the kind of future 3D printing would bring.

3D printing around the world

Around the globe, countries have begun to acknowledge the influence 3D printing technology can have on the construction industry.

Dubai has proved to be a hub for 3D technology with more than 700 companies involved in 3D printing. Intending to 3D print 25% of their buildings by 2030, the world’s first functional 3D printed office was built in 17 days by Dubai Future Foundation.

Larsen & Partners and 3D Printhuset have worked on more than thirty 3D printed construction projects in 2016 alone. Dutch architect, Janjaap Ruijssenaars, used 3D printing technology to build his Mobius 12,000-square-foot “with no beginning or end,” Landscape House.

Cazza, a start-up company plans to 3D print the world’s first skyscraper in Dubai with a bulkier 3D-printing crane that produces buildings up to three stories high.

However, it is not only in the dramatic, headlining grabbing projects of Dubai that 3D printing is starting to have an impact

Here are some current examples of Built-ID pioneering the technology of tomorrow…

DUS Architects

In 2013 the Amsterdam based DUS Architects announced they were building a 3D-printed 700m2 Canal House, with the intentions of the site becoming a hub for innovation and new production techniques for the building industry.  Expected to be finished this year, DUS Architects are utilising XL FDM 3D printers that can print elements up to 5 m tall.

DUS Architects – Canal House (Click image to view more)


Another great example of 3D printing in construction is MX3D’s bridge. Developing groundbreaking, robotic additive manufacturing technology is what MX3D does best. One of their current projects includes 3D printing a stainless steel bridge which crosses one of the oldest and most famous canals, Oudezijds Achterburgwal in the heart of Amsterdam. As for the firm’s approach, MX3D have applied multi-axis 3D printing technology to build the bridge’s structure out of metal.

MX3D – MX3D Bridge (Click image to view more)


Aectual is known for their cutting-edge 3D printed flooring system with a terrazzo infill.  From long-lasting quality to customizable designs, Aectual has already proven to be a success within property development due to their list of current projects, such as retail projects in Europe and Asia, a museum in the centre of Amsterdam and Amsterdams 600m2 Schiphol airport floor.

Aectual – Aectual Floors (Click image to view more)


AMIE, also known as the Additive Manufacturing Integrated Energy, was a collaborative project created by SOM architects and the U.S. Department of Energy (D.O.E) Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL). The project acted as a research and design experiment and became released in the first year of The Governor’s Chair for Energy and Urbanism.

Designed by SOM, The key focus on the 3D-printed building was to ensure it stored and produced renewable power, as well as sharing its energy with a wireless 3D printed vehicle developed by DOE.

Skidmore, Owings & Merrill LLP (SOM) – Amie 1.0 (Click image to view more)


XtreeE, a multi-material 3D-printing company partnered up with 18 other firms to take part in YRYS Concept House. The intention behind the project is to explore new building solutions that are sustainable, evolutive and practical to use.

Supported by one of France’s largest individual house builders; Maisons France Confort, XtreeE have had success in co-designing and printing a mold for a perforated wall, and four columns supporting the upper floor’s rooms. Although the project is still ongoing, this commitment to R&D and innovation suggests that in our construction industry of tomorrow, France could very well be a trailblazer of 3D printing.


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