3d printing has been present since 1980’s. It is the process in which various materials like plastics, concrete or metal are joined and solidified by a computer to create a three dimensional object. It’s first application was back in the 90s where medical researchers thought of using 3d printers to combine with medicine.
In the start of the 2000s, 3d printing became a buzz because of the first development of 3d printed kidney. The technology then became popular on the medical field and thus opened new opportunities for 3d printing to flourish to other fields.
By the time of the 2010s came, the fields in sciences like mechanical engineering, automotive engineering, and construction industry, to name a few, opened their doors to the idea. Construction Industry as example have been familar with robots and machines like CNC machine and laser cutters that help on erection of structures the familiarity made it easier for professionals to be open to the presented technology.
However, the construction industry is built on long trusted technologies and materials dating back centuries ago and that aspect slowed down the progress of 3d printing. It is associated for presentations of projects to show the relative reality but the potential of 3d printing was not explored further after that.
Materials used before for printing were limited to plastics, this alone created limitations among architects and engineers. The phasing of the industry versus the return of investment also became a concern for the designers. Designers use “sketch models” to determine necessary changes needed in a project. These models are evolving depending on the need, like how a sketch in paper changes through a course of discussion. Designers only use presentation level models once or twice per project phase and with the frequency of the use of 3d printers a lot of the designers don’t see their investment going further.
New printers now are being developed to break the limitation of 3d printers in the Industry, and the scope of 3d printing also widen due to advancement. Justin Gabitan of Puzzlebox, a company specialist on 3d printers in the Philippines, advocates the use of 3d printers not only for presentation but also as main part of construction. 3d printers can now produce structural components of a structure, and can build housing units; other than that it can also be used by designers for in-house mock ups and facade studies.
Several companies are now producing printers that uses different materials such as metals, concrete, and other solids as they have seen the opportunies laid out if such materials can be used. Costs, although still relative high, can now be justified with the scope and services included in the package.
With new technologies happening in the architecture industry and also the goal of the country’s professional advancement, 3d printing is one of the tools that will step up the country’s professional abilities, but with the economic and social issues, would the Philippines be ready for this?