History is an amazing aspect of life. The greatest aspect of history is that is plays out every day without us even realising it. We attempt to live life in the future, but all we can do is live presently and look to the past as a guide for how to proceed with our own existence. History is a part of us as well as a significant part of the landscape the world over. Structures, buildings, and homes have been built for as long as the earth has existed and due to time and the progress of humans, many of our historic structure have been lost.
It is a shame when a piece of architectural history is lost as, generally, it can only live on in pictures. Today we have technology to thank for saving many of our most valued and ancient structures. 3D Printing is now being utilised to save many of these structures and reclaim history from the wrecking ball. Why is this technology so important for historic renovations? Here are just a few reasons.
3D Printing is Exact
Historic societies are notorious for requiring that buildings deemed truly historic be kept exactly as they were made. However, advancements in building materials, and the mere fact that the original company that made certain ornamental pieces may no longer exist, it can be near impossible to find an exact piece. Historic societies have made great strides in accepting 3D Printing as a viable replacement because it is an exact replica. Rigid materials are made to the exact specifications of the previous piece, so even starch historical societies cannot argue with the exacting results of 3D Printers and their programs.
Historic Building 3D Printing is still in its infancy and therefore, examples are difficult to obtain currently. This is, however, an example of how 3D Printers can produce beautiful and intricate results in various shapes on a complex piece.
Historic building renovations can be phenomenally expensive. This is largely due to the exacting specifications of the building’s needs but are also attributed to the high costs involved in general manufacturing. Specialty pieces must be custom ordered and the recipient may sometimes have to put a project on hold until a specific piece can be obtained. Putting a historic renovation on hold, not only causes time lost, but can impact the building itself as an unfinished structure is more prone to wind and rain damage, not to mention the unfortunate acts of vandalism when a property is left alone.
3D Printing keeps things moving as many 3D Printers are portable enough to use on site. Even if 3D Printing is to be outsourced from the site, it is phenomenally less expensive than general machining processes. To 3D Print any historic piece requires the printer, material, computer program, and generally one operator. The 3D Printer does what would have taken countless man hours in traditional machining processes.
3D Printers allow for even the most complex piece to be easily manufactured for quality construction during historic renovations and all renovations needs.
A Record of the Design
An underlying benefit of 3D Printing in historic renovations is the mere fact that the design can be cataloged and saved within a company’s records. Unlike paper blueprints that may be lost over time, these records can aid in any further renovation to the structure without the fear of damage. Should the building ever come to need another ornamental piece designed, the designer need only to 3D Print another piece from the file for an exact fit without the need to remeasure, recut, and redo the entire process over again, after ensuring the scale is right, of course. 3D Printing saves a lot of time and money on any historic renovation.
What About Structural Integrity
We have discussed how beneficial 3D Printing can be for ornamental pieces on historic buildings. These are the pieces that are aesthetically pleasing but bear no real role in holding up the structure. What about structural walls and pieces used in the structural integrity of the building? 3D Printing may even be an option for that as well.
As of now, 3D Printers have merely been used in ornamental pieces, but with advancements in available materials come to light, we may soon see a historic renovation, including structural walls, completely comprised of 3D Printed materials. Metals, carbon composite, and many other high strength materials are a viable option for all aspects of historical renovations. We have already seen that 3D Printed homes are taking over in many poverty driven areas and soon, we may see a spike in the number of completely renovated historic structures as well. Time will tell how invested in 3D Printing historic renovators will become, but it is safe to say, the options are wide open for the concept to take hold.