3D Printing – Why It's Important to Your Project

3D printing is becoming more and more common. But how does it affect the construction industry, and more importantly, how can it benefit Haselden’s clients? Two words: quality control.

Those may not be the first words that come to mind when you picture the stunning displays of 3D printing that are splayed across the internet lately, but when it comes to doing right by our clients, clients quality control is at the top of the list.

Case Study: Weatherproofing

Anyone building in Denver knows that our extreme temperature swings of snow one day and highs in the 70s the next mean weatherproofing is very important. Because of all the layers (sheet metal flashing, liquid waterproofing, drainage board, acoustic mat, pan flashing . . . you get the idea) that are involved in weatherproofing, things can become complex quickly. A recent project of ours required 10+ layers in the weatherproofing system, and we decided to use this as a test to see how a 3D-printed model could help in this type of situation.

Benefits to the Management Team

What we found is this: having a tangible, manipulable object quickly brought clarity to a complicated layering process. The design and construction management team can see how the pieces need to come together at crucial transitioning points, and can look at the piece from every possible angle—even

underneath, which wouldn’t be possible with a full-size mock-up—to evaluate constructability and identify possible issues before they reach the field. Our VDC Department (the masterminds behind this experiment) color-coded the layers to match the color-coding in the drawings. The model layers are also numbered, allowing them to be taken apart and easily put back together in the correct order—much like a puzzle, but with none of the guesswork.

“Using 3-D models can help us identify hidden challenges sooner, rather than going through the change order process later,” notes Haselden Quality Control Manager Frank Bartholomew. “We can flush out constructability issues earlier which reduces rework and schedule delays.”

Benefits to the Field Team

The model also benefits the craft workers in the field. Again, having the opportunity to handle and manipulate the 3-D model provides a greater understanding of the system as a whole. The individual trades don’t just see how their discipline fits, they see how all the trades come together to create the final product. Using a model such as this in a preinstall meeting offers the chance for trades to ask specific questions about installation and bring up any issues with sequencing they may notice.

Construction is an exciting industry, in part because it’s constantly evolving and advancing. We are always learning new techniques and methods. Having a physical object to examine provides all stakeholders the ability to visualize, collaborate, and identify potential issues early on to guarantee a quality building is delivered each and every time. Mock-ups aren’t always feasible for everything you need, but you can almost always print a 3D model.

More to come in next week’s blog post on how Self-Perform VDC Specialist Lisa Johnston is upping the game in concrete!

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