• 3D printing - Revolution or Evolution

  • contract kitchens
  • While architects around the world are working on building the world’s first completely 3D printed properties it still feels like a huge leap forwards before this technology impacts on day to day operations of your average developer or contractor.

    But still, 3D printing allows for levels of customisation and design that have previously been unheard of in ours or any other industry. While there are legal issues over longevity and responsibility – it’s easy to see that spare parts, replacement units, hinges, clips, and hangings could all be, in theory at least, printed on site, on demand.

    It’s only a matter of time before we see 3D printing having widespread use in all sectors of construction industry.

    3D printers are far more than a gimmick, far more than something we see on television, used to print small plastic items, and novelties. The technology is moving rapidly in new, and sometimes unpredictable, directions, for example the Italian firm Wasp has a 3D Printer that is ‘printing’ clay house structures. In China another company, WinSun, is reported to have constructed a 5 story building, using materials which were 3D printed before being constructed on site.

    The Egyptian government has been reported as signing a deal for 20,000 houses, which will be printed on site. So the technology has already started to impact on government projects and procurement.
    With the advantages of reducing cost, while potentially improving durability and speed of response this technology is something that we, at Premiere Kitchens take very seriously.

    It is only a matter of time before we see 3D printing having widespread use in our particular segment of the industry.

    Did you know that 3D printing is not even really a new technology, it has been around since 1982 – with the first solid object being ‘printed’ in 1982 and the first working 3D Printer being made in 1984 – by Charles W Hull. So, what has held the technology back? Amongst over things we believe that it has largely been the price that has limited mass acceptance. That is changing rapidly, three years ago average prices were around £20,000, but now a printer with limited functionality can be bought for as low as £500.

    It’s worth comparing this to the history of the personal computer, which moved from being a bulky, deskbound monstrosity to something most of us carry in our pocket in under twenty years. The computing power in the average phone is well in access of the average ‘laptop’ in the late 90’s.
    As prices decrease, and the technological effectiveness increases the scope for this technology widens dramatically.

    So, what does the future look like?

    We foresee that, to start with, it will be small fittings that become 3D printed; door knobs, catches, interior fittings and potentially hinges could all be printed. We envisage them being printed on site, on demand, reducing response times and costs.

    In the longer term, there is nothing to stop manufacturers developing completely 3D printed ranges. While this will require a culture shift before end users would except the production materials above the more traditional wood and stone worktops, these shifts can happen surprisingly quickly. Initially we’d predict such ranges being used in student accommodation and potentially MOD and government projects, before gaining wider acceptance.

    So, what do you think?

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