15403638_1050394055071544_8613181620439418733_oPhoto Credit:  METALCON/AMIE on display at METALCON 2016
We continue to explore how 3D printing has the potential to “remodel the construction industry.”  As featured in Monday’s blog post, Amsterdam is poised to install the first 3D printed bridge made entirely from steel in 2019.  Structures built with 3D printing are popping up in locations such as Dubai, China, Italy, Russia and El Salvador.  It is also a subject that is appearing with more regularity in construction and technology trades and in mainstream news sources.  As reported by the Wall Street Journal just this month, “3-D printing is scaling up. All over the world, an impressive diversity of people and organizations, ranging from startups and hobbyists to construction and engineering firms, are successfully prototyping 3-D-printed buildings.”
Recognizing the growing trend and future potential, METALCON organizers had a 3-D printing technology project developed by the Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) on display and featured as a keynote educational session at the 2016 show. ORNL’s Additive Manufacturing Integrated Energy (AMIE) project demonstrates rapid innovation through additive manufacturing, or 3-D printing, addressing electricity supply and reliability challenges via an integrated approach to power generation, storage and consumption.  Researchers at ORNL are still hard at work and unveiled a 3D printed excavator at the ConExpo Trade Show last year.
Prototype single-family dwellings, prefabricated jail cells and hospital rooms are all existing projects found around the world. The more the basics are examined — the way the technology could potentially save energy, materials and time — the more it starts to feel like an idea that just might work.
Take for example, Massimiliano Locatelli, founder of architecture firm CLS Architetti in Milan, who has just finished 3-D-printing an 1,100-square-foot, single-family dwelling. He partnered with Arup and the startup CyBe, which makes a portable concrete 3-D printer.  3D HOUSING 05, a house designed with a new architectural language developed thanks to this new revolutionary technology, was just recognized at the 2018 Milano Design Awards with the Best Sustainability Award.
For Lisselot Tronconis, the appeal of 3D printing isn’t aesthetics, but that it can cut the cost, time and labor required to build homes. Ms. Tronconis wants to use 3-D-printed buildings to increase the number of houses she builds every year for some of the world’s poorest people—families in the sprawling suburban slums of El Salvador.  As the executive director of the charity People Helping People of El Salvador and the local program manager for El Salvador of New Story, they have partnered with ICON, an Austin, Texas, 3-D-printer construction startup for this project. ICON has successfully printed its first home and is poised to built an entire community at $4,000 per home with an estimated 12-24 hours to print the home.
In January, the Boston Consulting Group published an in-depth look at how 3D printing can potentially change and impact the construction industry in the coming decade.
The future has arrived.