Also known as ‘rapid prototyping’, and ‘additive manufacturing’, the 3D printing technology helps understand the spatial aspects of the physical environment. It helps the manufacturers in layer-by-layer construction of components using a device similar to the inkjet printer. The head of the device moves along the X and Y axes, while the component gets printed on the Z-axis. Digital files can be transformed into an actual, physical component easily using the device, thus reducing production runs and design expenses.

In the construction industry, urban planning is preceded by creating 3D models. Traditionally, these models take a lot of time and effort to be developed. Care needs to be taken regarding terrain and topographic mapping, not to mention the complexity of structural integrity. However, with additive manufacturing technology, such models can be developed within a day. The process of mapping gets easier with high-grade digital software and tools. All you have to do is, transform the digital files into real models, layer by layer, using advanced 3D printers. From city models to geological ones, everything can be developed faster and with precision.

Regarding landscapes, manual processes take a lot of time to transform sheets of cardboard into contour lines and 3D topographic models. Special features are highlighted with pushpins, strings, and colored pens. Using a 3D printer, such tasks get streamlines and hassle-free without giving rise to conflicts.

3D printing and housing – What you need to know

Housing is a prominent part of urban planning, as providing homes to the homeless takes development a notch higher. According to researches, 2% of the global population is homeless, and 20% of them do not enjoy adequate living conditions. If the construction industry starts integrating additive manufacturing in its urban planning endeavors, the process of real-time construction will get faster. It will help provide roofs over the heads of millions within a limited timeframe. The 3D laser-scanning technology can help measure dimensions accurately than traditional systems. The experts need not visit the sites repeatedly to take measurements. City planners and architects can help visualize the objects, understand, and plan the development within a limited time. Even the potential residents can be informed about the design and development process in advance.

Another unexpected use of 3D printing is in reducing urban heating to a considerable extent. An urban center that is relatively warmer than the surrounding rural areas can lead to overheating and health issues. Global warming is a threat to the population, let alone the environment. However, it can be mitigated by planting more trees and laying green layers on the balconies and rooftops of skyscrapers, as well as small buildings. Using 3D printing technologies, the architects can develop urban models by replacing unnecessary components on the roofs and empty spaces with heat-reducing plants. It will help them assess the effect of such green components and improvise the designs before executing the plan in real-time.

However, urban planning is not only concerned with the building of houses, but also infrastructure and transport. Let us delve into the matter to discuss in detail.

Benefits of 3D printing in transport

Additive manufacturing can revolutionize the transport sector, which is already going through several disruptive changes. From developing design models and prototyping to manufacturing essential and non-essential components of automobiles, aircraft, and ships, engineers and manufacturers can make the most of 3D printing. If you are wondering what will be the benefits, scroll on!

  • Reduced production costs – Additive manufacturing helps create real-time, physical objects, layer-by-layer. Using an advanced 3D printer and printing materials, one can manufacture components without using expensive methods. It will not only be possible to make iterations at a reduced cost but also faster.
  • Increased customization – Design specifics can be integrated into digital files, creating more space for customization. Engineers will have immense freedom to develop customized parts without exceeding the expenses. All one has to do is make improvisations to the digital files and store them for printing later. New designs can also be printed, thus enhancing the design scope for cars, buses, trains, and other urban transport vehicles. Even parts of aircraft and ships can be printed in a hassle-free manner.
  • Environmental benefits – The need to attain sustainability has stirred the world today. With additive manufacturing technologies, automobile engineers can try their creative skills in developing eco-friendly designs of vehicles. They can make changes to those designs easily on digital files and assess their effectiveness in the real world. If needed, one can also print miniature models of those vehicles to analyze their aesthetics and benefits closely. No extra costs will be necessary.
  • Real-time urban trains – The technology can help print lighter vehicles using top-of-the-line printers. The lighter these vehicles are, the less energy they will consume, which will again benefit the environment. However, there is no reason to believe that these trains will not be physically strong. Advanced 3D printers can help produce sturdier trains than traditional ones, that too functioning on less energy. One may also design silent trains to reduce noise pollution.
  • Lightweight cars – Lightweight vehicles are in demand these days, mainly because they consume lesser energy to function. The Selective Laser Melting (SLM) process in 3D printing helps optimize designs and create such models with absolute precision and accuracy. Now, you can design these cars and create miniature models for proper analysis. These cars will take the automotive industry by storm in the days of the future.

If you are an automobile engineer waiting to execute your dream project, 3D printing technology can help reach your goals faster and also contribute to urban development.

The challenges of 3D printing in urban planning

No new technology comes without its set of challenges. While 3D printing can indeed revolutionize the urban development sector, the need for more advanced printers that can transform any design into sturdier physical components is a necessity. They should be able to function with all kinds of materials. As the technology is still in its nascent stages, it is limited only to a specific set of materials. The only way to overcome this challenge is to create more awareness and come up with better printers for large-scale additive manufacturing.

Another challenge that will impact society, in general, is the reduced need for labor. With more advanced 3D equipment being developed, the technology is invading every sector that is now dependent on manual labor. After a few years, designing, prototyping, and manufacturing will require less labor, which will create a dearth of jobs. On the social front, it can be a big issue. One can overcome the same by educating oneself in more such disruptive technologies that will make the future independent of ‘people’. After all, expert knowledge will always be in demand.

How Additive Accelerator can help?

Are you feeling hesitant about integrating the 3D printing technology into your designing or prototyping projects? At Additive Accelerator, our team of experienced consultants can help you learn everything about it to ease your decision-making process. They can also help suggest the best solutions for your additive manufacturing endeavor. As this technology will shape the future of urban planning and development, you must be adequately trained and aware of it. The experts at Additive Accelerator can help achieve that purpose.

To know more about the technology and its benefits in the urban development sector, get in touch with our experts.