Applicability and Limitations of 3D Printing for Civil Structures

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Yossef, Mostafa
Chen, An
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Civil, Construction and Environmental Engineering

The Department of Civil, Construction, and Environmental Engineering seeks to apply knowledge of the laws, forces, and materials of nature to the construction, planning, design, and maintenance of public and private facilities. The Civil Engineering option focuses on transportation systems, bridges, roads, water systems and dams, pollution control, etc. The Construction Engineering option focuses on construction project engineering, design, management, etc.

The Department of Civil Engineering was founded in 1889. In 1987 it changed its name to the Department of Civil and Construction Engineering. In 2003 it changed its name to the Department of Civil, Construction and Environmental Engineering.

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  • Department of Civil Engineering (1889-1987)
  • Department of Civil and Construction Engineering (1987-2003)
  • Department of Civil, Construction and Environmental Engineering (2003–present)

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Three Dimensional Printing (3DP) is a manufacturing process that builds layers to create a three-dimensional solid object from a digital model. It allows for mass customization and complex shapes that cannot be produced in other ways, eliminates the need for tool production and its associated labor, and reduces waste stream. Because of these advantages, 3DP has been increasingly used in different areas, including medical, automotive, aerospace, etc. This automated and accelerated process is also promising for civil structures, including building and bridges, which require extensive labor. If successful, it is expected that 3D structural printing can significantly reduce the construction time and cost. However, unlike applications in other areas, civil structures are typically in large scale, with length or height spanning hundreds of feet. They are subjected to complex loadings, including gravity, live, wind, seismic, etc. Therefore, it is challenging to develop suitable printing tools and materials. As a result, although there are limited 3D printed buildings, 3DP of civil structures is still at a primitive stage. This papers aims to explore the applicability of 3DP for civil structures. The first part is devoted to a review of 3DP in different areas, including 3D printed buildings. Based on the state of art, the weakness and opportunities of 3DP are identified. Finally, future directions for 3DP in civil structures are discussed.


This is a paper from Proceedings of the 2015 Conference on Autonomous and Robotic Construction of Infrastructure, which can be found in full at:

Thu Jan 01 00:00:00 UTC 2015