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Singapore looks to 3D printing for ambitious public housing project

Singapore has an increasing need for public housing and is turning to 3D printing as a possible solution to their problem, reports 3D Printing Industry. At the heart of the problem is a shortage of supplies and slow build times because of the country’s reliance on foreign labor in its construction projects. By using 3D printing, the island nation hopes to be able to complete construction more rapidly and efficiently using local resources and a native workforce.

With $107.7 million in government and industry funding, the Singapore Centre for 3D Printing is heading up the effort to use 3D printing for the country’s public construction projects. The group is working with a 3D-printing company to explore the logistics of 3D printing to manufacture housing units one floor at a time. Each floor would be printed off-site using specialized concrete 3D printers and then moved to its final destination. The units then would be assembled one story at a time, using a stacking technique similar to building with Legos, explained Chua Chee Kai, the executive director of the Singapore Centre for 3D Printing when speaking to GovInsider.

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The Singapore Centre for 3D Printing will present a building plan this year and plans to build a prototype building within the next three years. Completing the project using 3D printing technology sounds exciting, but it will be a challenge for the group. The Centre staff will be starting from scratch, developing both industrial-sized 3D printers and printable concrete suitable for use in this type of construction. The team will experiment with different designs that will utilize 3D printing for select structural components and traditional methods for those parts that cannot be 3D printed due to cost or complexity.

Construction projects are not the only focus of Singapore’s 3D printing team. They group also is exploring whether 3D printing can be used to produce weaponry for the nation’s military, which has struggled to find replacement parts for its aging equipment. In the field of medicine, the Centre has already 3D printed bones for animals and is looking ahead to printing other prosthetics in the coming years.