Vancouver-based company Lifetec is pushing an exciting new development in construction 3D printing. The company is offering to 3D print steel beams for homes as a more efficient alternative to traditional construction. While typical construction frames use wood as the main material, the company believes steel to be the way going forward.
Using the Framecad system, the company can 3D print the frames to the exact specifications of the house and then ship them to the construction site. As a result, the construction crew receive a frame that they can quickly assemble on the spot.
There are many advantages to this system. The most obvious one is that it is quicker than the traditional method: “If we can work with the developer early enough, we can show up right when the foundation is complete, and it’s three to five days from there to assemble the house—as opposed to three to five weeks for building it from wood,” said LifeTec COO Jesse Goldman.
Another benefit is that steel is far sturdier and more durable than wood. This also decreases the reliance on manual labour as well as speeding up the construction process. This is particularly useful for the companies home city, Vancouver, which has a shortage of labourers and an increasing demand for housing as it continues to grow.
Lifetec is working on a number of projects that also include homes for families. The growing has led to them wanting to invest in most additive manufacturing technology. Of course, Lifetec owes a large part of its construction method to Framecad, a construction system from New Zealand. Framecad uses laser-based 3D printing technology to construct bespoke and modular steel beams and panels.
While they essentially work at the same rates as their counterparts using traditional construction, they are taking advantage of other benefits only they can provide. Due to a shortage of labour and a need to increase production, Framecad is providing the company with just the edge they need.
“Right now, on any construction project in the Lower Mainland, time is a huge factor,” commented LifeTec founder and president Krishna Jolliffe. “When you are dealing with a lack of labour, speeding up those time frames creates huge efficiencies for any builder. 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.”