3D printing technology has revolutionised the architectural and engineering industry over the past few decades with rapid prototyping playing an increasingly pivotal role in the design process. This process now also offers myriad possibilities in the construction of prefabricated building components, enabling entire buildings to be 3D printed in the future. Foster + Partners is collaborating with nine leading organisations to explore the potential of metal-based 3D printing using additive and subtractive manufacturing processes that will enable production within a short timeframe.
Foster + Partners was an early adopter of 3D printing and rapid prototyping technology – having bought its first 3D printer in 2004, it was one of the first architectural practices to invest heavily in the technology. In 2014, the Lunar Habitation project, designed with a consortium set up by the European Space Agency, explored the possibilities of remote 3D printing on the moon, an approach that has been further developed for a similar project on Mars. For a number of years, Foster + Partners has also been involved with Loughborough University and other consortium partners in bringing large-scale 3D concrete printing technology to market.
“It would also mean that these components could be produced within a reduced time frame at a fraction of the cost.”According to the firm, the evolution of digitally-controlled fabrication techniques will lead to entire buildings being constructed from bespoke 3D-printed parts in the years to come.The LASIMM project is being funded through the EU Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme and is currently in the first year of an anticipated three-year run.Foster + Partners is collaborating with nine partners, including the European Welding Federation and BAE Systems. Its main role is providing end-user feedback from the construction sector.
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