Your next home can be printed instead of built
A new generation of start-ups want to disrupt the development of homes – and they are already on the market.
For those uninitiated to 3D printing (although years of manufacturer sites, souvenirs, prosthetics and auto parts have already shown us the wonders of 3D printing) here is a useful definition of 3D printing. of Associated press: “3D printing, also known as additive manufacturing, uses machines to deposit thin layers of plastic, metal, concrete, and other materials on top of each other, ultimately producing three-dimensional objects from below. up.”
You might think that 3D printing is all about small objects – and for the most part that’s true, most printers are small in size and can only produce small objects. But more and more 3D printers are being used for larger objects. Houses, in particular, are an attractive area for this.
The time has never been more ripe than it is now for 3D printing. Innovation is in the air; the prices of 3D printers are falling; more affordable and sustainable materials are being developed; and there is a shortage of wood and other materials traditionally used for building houses. All the elements aligned to make the 3D printed structures competitive with ordinary materials.
In fact, many believe that 3D printed homes could not only be comparable in price to conventional homes – but they could be cheaper. Construction time could also be drastically reduced. the World Economic Forum recognized the importance of this change in the industry – 3D printing can lift a house in days, compared to weeks or (more often) months.
Mighty Building is a good example. As stated in Sustainable brands, the company mainly manufactures construction panels. These can be bolted together as building blocks for structures. They use a thermoset composite material created through 3D printer technology and the whole process is very efficient: the material hardens immediately under UV light.
ICON is another 3D printing company in the construction scene, which takes advantage of advanced robotics. They can print up to three houses at a time. Fast company examined their capabilities and reported that on one site he had tried to print multiple houses at once. It was an experiment and they found it was possible, which allowed them to go faster and reduce costs. Fast company described the Vulcan printer, measuring 33 feet long, as functioning “like a giant version of desktop 3D printers, projecting a custom concrete mix layered like icing on a cake.” The process builds the walls of the house, with other rooms, including the roof and windows, added later.
But are 3D printed homes too limited a solution to a giant problem of lack of affordable housing? How is this a practical solution? The CTO answered the question with another question: “How do you eat an elephant?” One bite at a time.
Down to earth
In Italy, meanwhile, 3D printed houses are, literally, revolutionary. If you yawn on structures that look like tall cardboard boxes and ring with a bicycle, dog, and morning newspaper at the door, wait for that. WASP provided a surprising alternative.
WASP is a 3D printing company that has partnered with Mario Cucinella Architects to create a “TECLA” house near Bologna, Italy. It is a dome-shaped structure, a circular pattern that has the appearance of coming directly from the earth below.
The construction was based on natural materials and it was done with two printer arms running at the same time. The recipe: earth mixed with water and special additives. It has a zero net footprint and uses a hundred layers of 3D printed clay.
“Each printer has the capacity to print an area of 50 m² (538 square feet), which allows for a single housing module in a few days”, according to New Atlas. The house has an open plan living room with a kitchen, a bedroom, a bathroom and a wardrobe. A skylight provides natural light during the day and “stargazing” at night. New Atlas called TECLA a “pioneering example of low-carbon housing construction”.
At the moment, it’s still unclear whether 3D printed homes will become mainstream. But the signs are there. Already, the first 3D printed house in the United States has been sold – and at a much lower price than its competitors in the region. Without a doubt, 3D printing is just getting started and it might not be long before it starts popping up in a neighborhood near you.