Unveiling ISO/ASTM 52939:2023: The New Standard for 3D Printing in Construction


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The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) recently published ISO/ASTM 52939:2023.

Titled “Additive manufacturing for construction — Qualification principles — Structural and infrastructure elements,” this standard aims to ensure quality, safety, and efficiency within the 3D printing construction industry.

“The purpose of this document is to outline the requirements necessary as a basis for production and delivery of high quality additively manufactured structures (residential or infrastructure) in the construction sector,” the ISO document stated.

The ISO is an independent expert body which creates standards defining technical specifications and guidelines to ensure the consistent and quality-controlled utilization of products, services and systems.

Founded in 1947 and headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland, the ISO has now published over 24,500 international standards covering a wide range of technological and manufacturing processes.

A new ISO/ASTM standard for construction 3D printing

Published in December 2023, ISO/ASTM 52939:2023 was prepared through a collaboration between the ISO’s Additive Manufacturing Technical Committee, and ASTM International’s Additive Manufacturing Technologies Committee.

The ASTM, once known as the American Society for Testing and Materials, is an international standards organization located in Pennsylvania, US. There’s a continuing alliance between the ISO and ASTM which aims to form a uniform set of criteria for additive manufacturing.

The recently published standard denotes quality assurance guidelines for additive manufacturing in construction. The ISO mentions that without the essential ISO/ASTM standards, it’s impossible to achieve risk reduction, approval, and certification for Additive construction. The newly launched regulations don’t rely on material and are not applicable to metals.

The documentation denotes the guideline for 3D printing construction methods, quality-related characteristics, and elements associated with additive manufacturing construction operations. The document details important steps in additive construction processes that need to be managed and supervised by a locally certified engineer to guarantee superior quality 3D printed structures.

ISO/ASTM 52939:2023 is applicable to all additive manufacturing technologies used in construction and structural and infrastructural building components for residential and commercial uses.

However, the document does not apply to environmental, health and safety aspects relating to the 3D printing facility setup, material handling, operating robotics, or the packing and shipping of equipment. What’s more, the new standard does not cover design approvals, material properties, characterization and testing.   

The ASTM International logo. Image via ASTM International.

Additive manufacturing and the construction industry 

According to the recently published ISO document, the construction industry is facing a number of challenges, including labor shortages, project delays, increasing lead times, material wastage, and excessive Co2 use. 

Global construction demand is escalating in relation to the ongoing global housing crisis and growing scale of infrastructure projects. The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) suggests that additive manufacturing could be a solution to these issues.

Over recent years, the adoption of additive manufacturing in construction has increased. This method, including 3D printing, may provide a more reliable, environmentally friendly, affordable, and effective alternative to conventional construction methods.

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“Why did the 3D printer go to therapy? Because it had too many layers of unresolved issues!”


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