The construction industry is often on the forefront of new technology, whether it involves tools and machinery or the materials from which a building is made. Technology is meant to make tasks less expensive, but new developments can also make buildings safer.

With the rise in 3D printing, there has been a push to include this technology in the construction of buildings and houses, not just here in New York, but all across the world. Like any material or tool, however, it must be used properly.

What Is 3D Printing?

3D printing works through the use of a machine that “prints” out a physical object one layer at a time, and builds up a 3D object. It can be done in different ways depending on the type of 3D printer, and usually requires a digital file of the object for the machine to create the shape. The printer then extrudes plastic or another material, one thin layer at a time, to build up the final form.

How Could Construction Use 3D Printing?

3D printing in construction has, so far, been pretty limited, but companies all over the world are pushing for new developments. In theory, someone could print bricks that could then be assembled into a structure, or an entire wall of bricks. The first “fully 3D-printed building” was debuted in Dubai in 2016. It was assembled in a matter of weeks. These structures have popped up across the world, made from aluminum, concrete, and other materials that are fed into a 3D printer and then assembled into a structure.

What About Construction Liability?

Laws regarding 3D printing are few at this point, because it is an emerging technology and new ideas are constantly being tested for use in construction. At the end of the day, however, any 3D-printed building or material must meet the same safety regulations as walls built by hand. Should a structure fail in some critical way, the company responsible for “building” it, even if it was 3D-printed, can potentially be held liable for errors that led to a collapse. This may include improper materials, a design with a mistake in it, or improper building or assembly.

If you or someone you know has been involved in any kind of injury or accident due to building code violations, call us at Wingate, Russotti, Shapiro, Moses & Halperin, LLP, at (212) 986-7353.