The technology of 3-D printed has progressed rapidly in recent years. Ranging from food to prosthetics to furniture and, most recently, even bathrooms. This progression in technology has the power to determine how different industries operate in the coming future.
Researchers from Nanyang Technological University (NTU) in Singapore have successfully printed an entire unfurnished bathroom in just 12 hours. It was created using a special concrete mix, as mentioned in a joint statement by the university and the National Research Foundation (NRF) on May 22nd. The bathroom was later furnished with toilet fittings to complete it.
The university stated that this bathroom is ready for use in construction projects and is fitted with the main essentials of a bathroom including a toilet, sink, mirror, and shower. As an added bonus, the bathroom also had ceramic tiled walls and flooring with concealed drainage and piping.
This new project was lead and developed by a research team comprising of individuals from NTU, as well as from Sembcorp Design and Construction and Sembcorp Architects and Engineers. A significant portion of the research was devoted to enhancing and perfecting the concrete mix, making it fluid enough to flow through the print nozzle, while at the same time able to harden rapidly enough to allow for the proceeding layers to be printed on top. The concrete had to have a consistent print quality with the same strength as conventional concrete. NTU stated that this was a culmination of four-years of research and testing.
This new development has opened up the possibility for firms to build prefabricated bathrooms about 30 percent faster and are about 30% lighter than current prefabricated bathroom units made with concrete casting. It was added by NTU that the proof-of-concept aims to increase productivity within the construction industry with the use of robotic manufacturing to reduce the need for skilled labour and excessive manpower. They estimate roughly 60% in time and manpower savings.
Associate professor Tan Ming Jen, leader of the research team, stated, “By being able to print-on-demand, companies can save on their inventory costs as well as manpower costs, as they don’t have to hold as much stock and their workers can be redeployed to do higher-level tasks.”
The 3-D printed bathroom is stated to have already passed industry tests for strength as well as robustness. In the meantime it is going through fire resistance tests in compliance to the Building Innovation Panel requirements. Further steps also need to be taken by the research team before commercialising the technology through licensing or a spin-off company.