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Could printed buildings eliminate construction worker injuries?

The good news for Charlotte's construction industry is that business is booming. The bad news is that some construction firms are struggling to find enough skilled workers to keep job sites humming along.

The more inexperienced the workers on a construction site, the more likely it is that a construction accident and injuries will take place. However, high-tech firms are racing to provide a solution with 3-D printed architecture in which entire buildings are "printed" with little to no risk of injury.

Although printed architecture is in its infancy, there have been several houses printed in concrete in China and other firms are readying plans to print bridges and other structures.

According to a recent news article, there are several hurdles for 3-D developers to overcome before printing becomes a common form of construction.

The co-founder of a 3-D printing think tank and co-author of "Printing Architecture" says it's unlikely that printing buildings will ever really take off. “Buildings are culturally complex objects,” Ronald Rael says. Because buildings (and other objects) are printed in a continuous loop of successive layers, printing is unlikely to one day soon dominate the construction industry.

"One material or material system cannot achieve all the demands that buildings require,” Rael says.

Instead, he says it's possible that "a battery, or farm, of printers" could one day be configured to construct portions of buildings in different materials needed to make structures viable and sound.

Obviously, the hurdles for 3-D construction printing are substantial. While there is little doubt that printing would dramatically reduce construction worker injuries, it would also dramatically reduce the number of workers and thereby be objectionable to some.

Construction workers injured on the job are typically eligible for North Carolina workers' compensation benefits. If you have been denied workers' comp you have earned, contact an attorney to discuss an appeal.

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