LifeTec Construction Group is working on 3D printing studs from structural steel for use in home construction. This use of metal 3D printing further shows how viable metal 3D printing has come in just the last few years.
3D printed structures, like houses, office buildings, and bridges, are much more common than they were even a few years ago, and a construction company in Vancouver is introducing new disruptive technology that can accelerate the building process exponentially. Vancouver-based LifeTec Construction Group Inc. is working on several private projects with its technology, which can 3D print studs out of structural steel for home construction.
Most typical 3D printing processes for metallic materials, like steel, shape the material with lasers, which makes the printers get extremely hot, but LifeTec, which was founded earlier this year, uses the end-to-end design and build Framecad system, which is only available in New Zealand, South America, Europe, Australia, Asia, and Africa. The advanced Framecad allows for quality buildings to be constructed rapidly – this quality is very helpful now, as the Lower Mainland in Canada is currently going through a construction labor shortage.
“Right now, on any construction project in the Lower Mainland, time is a huge factor. When you are dealing with a lack of labour, speeding up those time frames creates huge efficiencies for any builder,” said LifeTec founder and president Krishna Jolliffe. “So I don’t think we’ll always be able to show people savings, because we aim to come in at the same cost as traditional methods, but on any project, we’ll have a significant time advantage.”
The company’s process is totally mechanical – instead of using specialized 3D printers to make individual modular parts, studs and panels, the building frame is designed on a computer. Then, the parts are shipped to the construction site and assembled there.
Jolliffe said, “There is no heat created whatsoever (in LifeTec’s process), which is a big part of our manufacturing value proposition. Any manufacturing process that creates high heat means a lot of energy is required; whereas our process consumes minimal amounts of energy.”