New York City’s waterfront has been increasingly susceptible to flooding, super storms and rising tides, and the fragile support system of pilings (or wood and steel columns) holding up the city is in desperate need of repair. Rather than rebuilding the decaying wood and steel, which can be very expensive, the New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC) has chosen a rather unconventional solution to keep the city afloat – 3D printing. The city estimates that using 3D printing to reinforce the columns will save a whopping $2.9 billion in construction costs.
After a request for proposals for an alternative solution to fix the city’s dwindling pilings, NYCEDC ended up choosing a 3D printing company over designers and engineers. D-Shape is an Italian concrete 3D printing company that has already used their technology to print sculptures, foundations and lunar habitats. D-Shape has proposed to 3D scan the rotting pilings, and then reprint doubles in concrete to repair them. The firm received just $50,000 to repair the important infrastructure.
To fix up the pilings, D-Shape will scan each in their varying levels of decay, and then design custom reinforcements. The reinforcements will be 3D-printed in sturdy concrete and then put into place underwater by a team of divers. If successful, the project will not only awe with its tiny budget, but will also be the first 3D printing project completed on a large infrastructural scale.