Polyethylene Terephthalate & Wood Powder Construction Printer
A lot of news has been contributed to 3D printing and it's potential uses in in large scale construction and manufacturing. High Performance Quick Setting Concrete has been successfully demonstrated as a print material, producing modular components, backyard decorations and structures, and even complete homes. Producing roads, bridges and runway structures already utilizes layered fabrication techniques, however multi axis printing now offers unique opportunities not currently available with traditional deposition and forming methods.
As materials evolve, opportunities exist for operators of large format 3d printers from recycled plastic and wood composites similar to TREX, a popular building material extruded into planks. TREX has reached worldwide acceptance in the stick built construction industry, however it relies on traditional time consuming, labor & distribution methods and is limited by the skill of the carpenters or craftsmen. 3D printing could greatly impact this field when combined with a sufficiently large build envelope of modular design, allowing for agile production of construction products wherever raw materials can be sourced.
Here in the US, wood chips, pellets and scrap lumber from tree maintenance and shipping, often used for fuels or methane producing landscape mulches, could find use in additive manufacturing. PET or #1 recyclable plastic can also form the base formulation for a material similar to TREX with the addition of UV stabilizers, fireproofing agents and nanomaterials such as Nanocellulose. It should be possible to produce durable 25+ year weather resistant structures of unique architectural complexity and environmental efficiency out of reclaimed materials at a fraction of the total costs of traditional new construction. This would offer an economic bridge to underserved communities in despirate need of sustainable housing worldwide.
This solution while certainly disruptive to western economics, nevertheless presents a bottom cost model, and would benefit developing nations immensely. These countries possess ample raw materials in the form of amassed unrecyclable plastics, along with environmental conditions well suited for growing grasses and wood source materials like bamboo, exotic hardwoods and nanocellulostic precursors. Related IP presents enormous opportunities to companies interested in developing construction related and additive manufacturing capacity in these markets.