We thank Mr Timothy Toh Hong Ern for his letter ("Difficult to rely on 3D printing alone for Singapore buildings").
The 3D-printed Prefabricated Bathroom Unit (PBU) is currently undergoing stringent tests required by BCA's Building Innovation Panel (BIP), which includes representatives from technical authorities and the industry, to ensure that it is suitable for implementation and that it meets the necessary regulatory requirements in Singapore.
The team from NTU had sought to address the challenges Mr Toh highlighted. From the start, the aim was to develop a 3D-printed PBU designed for Singapore's high-rise environment. Hence, the completed PBU has a strong concrete base with anchor points which can be used for hoisting up to high-rise apartments.
While the initial capital costs of commercial 3D printers for construction may be higher, they can be offset by savings in labour, materials and production time. It is estimated that there would be potentially 30 per cent savings in production cost for each PBU produced using 3D printing when compared with conventional construction methods.
NTU is now able to design 3D-printed PBUs to accommodate concealed electrical, plumbing and sanitary pipes, unlike conventional casted concrete units which may require drilling and hacking. The 3D-printed PBU is also 30 per cent lighter which makes it easier to hoist.
There are bound to be challenges whenever we embark on a new journey. BCA encourages more of such innovative industry initiatives and will support the introduction of new technologies through the Building Innovation Panel and the BuildSG Transformation Fund, where applicable.
Assoc Prof Tan Ming Jen
Ang Lian Aik
Group Director for Construction Productivity and Quality
Building and Construction Authority