How 3D printing could help tackle homelessness in Los Angeles
Los Angeles is home to the second largest homeless population in the United States Although new resources have been allocated to creating housing during the pandemic, it is not enough. The tent cities invade the underpasses of highways and rub shoulders with neighborhoods.
For Berok Khoshnevis, this crisis represents an opportunity. Khoshnevis is an engineering professor at the University of Southern California and has a lifelong interest in the potential of 3D printing. Since 1980s, he worked with 3D printed machines, with particular emphasis on the creation of large structures.
Lately, Khoshnevis has turned his attention to automated 3D printing construction technology, an application he believes could be used to meet Los Angeles’ urgent needs for new housing solutions.
His vision is off to a promising start: in 2020, he received a project from the LA County Development Authority to build four social housing. Given the housing push in California (and the rest of the United States), Khoshnevis’s project could be an indicator of a new phase of affordable housing.
Printing of buildings on demand
Khoshnevis invented a new method of 3D printing structures called Contour Crafting. Although in some aspects 3D printing of structures is limited and can only use certain materials, the speed at which it allows you to build new structures with reduced manpower is impressive.
For Khoshnevis, one of the most promising aspects of 3D printed construction technology is the ability it creates for users to print buildings when and where the need for new construction arises.
“The intention is to print in place, which is the main potential of this technology,” he said. “You have to have a foundation, then the machine will build the structure from scratch.”
With a single user machine, the user prints each layer of the fabric in sequence, stopping between each layer to allow the substrate to dry.
“We can add chemicals to make sure the materials can harden faster,” Khoshnevis said, meaning that whatever concrete material the user chooses to base their structure on will dry much faster. than what is typical of conventional construction processes.
Machine operation varies considerably depending on job site demand, as well as the type of machine used.
“There are different designs of machines that require different levels of preparation,” Khoshnevis explained. “For example, we created a system for the government that allows one person to set up the machine on site in fifteen minutes. The machine can use any kind of structural material that can be made into paste, any shape of concrete.
New housing in record time
According to Khoshnevis, this method can cut construction time in half. Conventional building methods are able to complete the framing process, building walls and a roof, in about a month or two.
“Typically, for a thousand square foot building, you should be able to print it in a day,” Khoshnevis said. “At this point, you can add other components, such as HVAC and electricity. Right now, 3D printing can only create the shell of a building, but I have patented processes for automated plumbing and electrical insulation, as well as automated reinforcement. ”
With new, faster technologies and a streamlined permitting process, the outline-designed buildings could help dramatically reduce the housing shortage in Los Angeles, providing housing for the estimated 41,290 homeless people living in Los County alone. Angeles.
The economy of new housing
Although housing advocates have just received a massive injection of new funding from the county, building as many new housing units as possible within budget is still a primary concern. And according to Khoshnevis, edge-creating technologies can help save money and time.
“This technology can be used to speed up construction and make it cheaper, saving money on labor costs while reducing material waste,” he said. “Part of the cost savings is in the speed of construction, but there is also a reduction in the number of workers you have to hire and reduced material costs. “
As Khoshnevis points out, the price of land is often the most important expense in the construction of new social housing. Contour crafting can also help save money here, allowing builders to erect new units on lots that are not suitable for conventional large-scale construction.
Los Angeles still has tens of thousands of vacant lots scattered throughout the city, many of which are oddly shaped or difficult to access with construction machinery. But with a single-operator contour cutter, builders could start to take advantage of some of that unused space.
Dana Bean of Union Station Homeless Services agrees that innovative thinking is needed if Los Angeles has any hope of solving the homeless crisis.
“Los Angeles urgently needs additional housing opportunities for members of our homeless community,” she said. “We have seen additional housing resources in the last few months of the pandemic, including vacant hotels thanks to the project hospitality key and product room key, as well as pallet shelters going up. throughout the city that provide temperature controlled rooms with a door that locks. These temporary housing solutions can provide a safe space for those who need it. “
Bean says technologies such as the Khoshnevis Key Utility enable Housing First solutions geared towards removing people from the streets.
“We are opening a small village of houses in Eagle Rock at the end of the year, and although we initially saw some community concern over the construction issue,” she said. “But once people saw that the project would take people off the streets of their neighborhoods and give them housing, they were incredibly grateful.”
Ultimately, Khoshnevis says he’s interested in seeing how housing advocates are using his edge-creating technology, adding that he believes this technology has the potential to change the face of the contemporary construction industry. .
“Construction is the only area of human activity that is still done manually,” he said. “It is a very dangerous task, and many people are unable to participate in the industry due to physical limitations. 3D technology would allow more people to participate in the construction industry. One thing I can do say for sure is that the construction is not going to remain manual forever. ”
And with the potential of edge-creating technology, an automated solution to the Los Angeles homebuilding crisis could be closer than we think.
From your Articles site
Related articles on the web