What is the impact of 3D printing on the plumbing industry?

The first 3d-printed building went up in Dubai in 2016, and the use of this technology has seen a global growth spurt as more industries are finding applications for it. With so many people in South Africa living in informal settlements, 3D printing could possibly provide a solution to housing – and plumbing.

The manufacturing and installation processes could be streamlined, which could lead to a reduction in labour costs. This in turn may lead to a reduction in overall costs of pipes and fittings – cutting installation time down as well – making plumbing services more accessible to the many South Africans who struggle with poverty and low income. The idea of 3D printing for plumbing may also appeal to homeowners who are conscious of the environment.

Benefits include lower costs in production and installation, water conservation and reduced waste of material. However, in order for this to take off and become accepted in the industry, regulations will need to be developed and put into place – not just to protect the plumber and the consumer, but also to protect the intellectual property of those who have developed the printing of the material. These materials would also need to be compatible with existing infrastructure.

The possibilities for 3D printing in plumbing and construction are just starting to emerge on the horizon, and it certainly is an aspect of the industry to keep an eye on.


Plumbing Circle and Crown magazine