Businesses are turning to 3D printing technology to build homes
This one took five days to build.
Today, experts believe 3D printing technology can help solve India’s housing shortage by delivering completed homes in a fraction of the time and money required for traditional construction.
“We’re trying to build a 500 square foot house in less than a week,” said Vidyashankar C, co-founder and chief operating officer (COO) of Tvasta Manufacturing, who raised ??3 crore from Habitat for Humanity, a global organization working to solve the housing problem.
He did not say how much the Chennai house cost.
The problem with scaling – and India’s housing shortage is gigantic – is that there are only a handful of companies building 3D printed homes.
But Vidyashankar believes that many 3D printed structures will appear in the south of the country. Its start-up focuses solely on construction for large real estate groups and is currently building a 5,000 to 6,000 square foot structure in Pondicherry for commercial use.
The use of 3D printers in India is coming of age. It is no longer limited to the construction of components for the automotive and aeronautical sector. During the peak months of the pandemic, they were used to build valves for ventilators and face shields.
Also known as additive manufacturing, 3D printing is a process in which three-dimensional objects are created from a digital representation by putting layer after layer of printing material. Typically, the material used in 3D printing is plastic or metal. A special type of concrete is used for housing projects.
Among traditional construction companies, Larsen and Toubro (L&T) have made some inroads with a few 3D printed houses. It showed off a prototype two-story house earlier this year at its facility in Kanchipuram near Chennai using a large-format 3D printer provided by Danish company Cobod.
A 2020 report from the Indian Council for Research on International Economic Relations (ICRIER) said the housing shortage in Indian cities increased by 54% to 29 million in 2018, from 18.78 million in 2012.
Globally, three billion people will need improved housing by 2030, for which 96,000 new homes will need to be built every day, the World Economic Forum has estimated.
Swapnil Sansare, founder of Divide by Zero Technologies, a Mumbai-based 3D printing company, said the technology can also be useful for constructing small buildings or facilities on rough terrain with minimal manpower. .
Sansare, who has been in talks with construction companies who wanted prototype 3D printers, said those companies can build homes much faster than traditional methods using additive manufacturing.
Vidyashankar said: “Traditional construction faces many challenges. Construction practices are outdated. 3D printing can make a big difference in terms of optimization and efficiency. It can open up new designs and bring a paradigm shift from a user experience perspective. “
Vidyashankar also explained that the cost of funding alone makes it lucrative for 3D printing houses. It is likely to be more affordable due to the shapes and unique design that 3D printing allows compared to conventional methods.
“3D printed homes will be up to 30% cheaper than conventionally constructed homes,” he said.
One factor that has helped Tvasta reduce costs is having full control over the value chain. The startup has its manufacturing facility in Bengaluru and manufactures everything in-house, including raw materials, printers, software, and processes.
That said, the technology has certain limits, and building large houses or multi-story apartments for commercial use can be a challenge.
“Constructing a multi-story building using only 3D printing is not imminent. Some of the companies outside of India that claim to have built multi-story buildings have built a hybrid. They create a scaffolding and place the 3D printed house on top. This scaffolding is developed using traditional processes, ”Sansare explained.
But that doesn’t mean tiny homes built with 3D printers lack durability or are unsafe. According to Sansare, these single story homes are durable and safe for life. To ensure that its 3D printed homes are structurally as robust as a traditional home, Vidyashankar said her company has followed all protocols that exist for traditional homes.
“The IIT-Madras Civil Engineering Department has been very helpful in this regard. We are also working with the Central Building Research Institute (CBRI) and the Government of India’s Council Of Scientific And Industrial Research-Structural Engineering Research Center to obtain all required approvals and certifications, ”he added.
For now, Tvasta will focus on building structures in Chennai, Bangalore and Hyderabad. However, he plans to build structures in Coorg and Kashmir next year to show how well the technology works in the most difficult terrain. Vidyashankar expects his company to complete construction of 25,000 to 30,000 square feet next year and 150,000 to 200,000 square feet the following year.
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