3D printing has long been promised as the tool to revolutionise manufacturing, design and construction. But the slow progress in reducing prices and producing easily manipulable materials has left the technology with some way to go.
Tan Ming-Jen, and his team of scientists at Singapore’s Nanyang Technological University, have made a breakthrough step: They’ve developed a fluid, quick-drying form of concrete that can be fed through a nozzle and used in the construction process.
Ming-Jen and his team have successfully used the product to 3D print an entire bathroom — minus the sinks and pipes that would be installed later — using a ‘W-shaped lattice movement’ that saves material and ensures a strong building. It’s believed this process could cut the time needed to build prefabricated bathrooms by 30%; improve safety, by removing human labour; and make the construction industry cheaper and better for the environment.
Ming-Jen studied at Imperial College London, earning a PhD in Metallurgy & Materials. He joined Nanyang University as Associate Professor in 1990, following a brief stint in Japan as a Science & Technology Agency Fellow at the Mechanical Engineering Lab in Tsukuba.