Why 3D Printing is Important to Smart Cities

3D Printing

As smart cities continue to get more intelligent, technologies need to be optimised to best address their needs. We previously talked about how 3D printing has had a prominent role in construction and manufacturing, creating the world’s first 3D-printed concrete house in France, Amsterdam’s stainless steel bridge, and an eco-friendly mud house. There has even been a lot of talk about how 3D printing can now build glass structures. 3D printing is a perfect match for smart cities which require sound technological solutions to help minimise resources, maximise ergonomic functions, cut costs, and rethink strategies and processes.

So here’s why 3D printing is important to smart cities:

Urban planning and transportation
3D printing can help visualise urban planning and routes to build better vehicles and forms of transportation. Local Motors created a self-driving smart shuttle called Olli which was manufactured with a 3D printer. This technology allows for more intelligent methods of spatial awareness. This particular 3D-printed vehicle is even made from partially recyclable materials – transforming the manufacturing process and cutting down on emissions by supporting the use of shared transportation. For smart cities where interconnectedness is key, this could mean another sustainable mode of transport by which citizens of these places could all take part in.

LED lighting
3D printing lets you see anything you envision come to life. This could be helpful in smart cities that put a premium on factors like energy efficiency. LED lighting technology is favoured for this reason, and use PCBs to transfer heat effectively while still remaining compact. The omnipresence of LEDs has become so common for residential and commercial purposes and across others such as the automotive, computer science, and even medical industries, that creating a PCB with a 3D printer is a smart solution to addressing their changing needs. 3D printing could even replace conventional PCB fabrication processes, and this could mean continued sustainable practices for smart cities to adopt. 

Reduction of waste and smarter production
In pursuing efficiency and maximising output, urbanism needs to be radically redefined in smart cities. Production and consumption need to change in order for there to be improved waste reduction. Fabrication labs with 3D printing technology and other production tools can simulate new forms of production. In terms of food technology, food-grade 3D printers accommodate the demand for customised food and nutrient-filled products for individual dietary needs. A report from the 5th edition of the 3D Food Printing Conference in The Netherlands states that behind these innovations comes the need to develop more sustainable food manufacturing systems, with which 3D food printing could be the solution to feed a growing global population.

In smart cities where sustainable development is a must, 3D printing could offer tangible solutions to fill in the gaps that other technologies cannot fill. 

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