Transforming a 20th century legacy into a 21st century opportunity | News
The Iowa State University College of Design recently received the $1.4 million Strategic Infrastructure Program (SIP) grant for its Affordable Innovative Technologies (3D AIT) 3D Housing Project, which aims to bring affordable housing to surrounding rural communities in Iowa.
The affordable housing market has shrunk in surrounding urban Iowa in recent years. The College of Design aims to solve this problem by creating a 3D construction printer to reduce labor time and material costs, thereby reducing purchasing costs for buyers.
“This project focuses on affordable housing and attempts to address the lack of available and affordable housing in Iowa,” said Pete Evans, assistant professor of industrial design. “We are looking to try to lower the purchase price.”
After at least a year and a half of preparation, 3D AIT is starting to take off.
The SIP grant is one of four grants supporting the AIT 3D Housing Project, bringing the total grant amount awarded to $2.1 million. Funds from the SIP grant are used to purchase equipment and materials for the 3D printer.
The 3D printer being built is similar to the model used by Iowa-based private construction company Alquist 3D, a private partner in the project. The first owner-built 3D printed home in the United States was built in Virginia by Alquist 3D.
The prospects for new housing developments are exciting, but it is the multi-faceted implications of the project that make its future success so exciting.
The AIT 3D Housing Project will attempt to make homes in record time, but it will also include student input and research, showcase the future of homeowner and consumer design, and lead to new educational programs through the Iowa Central Community College.
“We’re trying to turn a 20th century legacy into a 21st century opportunity,” Evans said.
To reduce the purchase price of houses, the 3D printer must reduce construction costs. Child’s play for a 3D construction printer capable of printing ten houses in 24 hours, based on a project carried out in China.
According to emerging industry claims cited in a presentation from the AIT 3D Housing Project, 3D printing a home can reduce construction time and labor costs by 50-80%, reduce site waste by 50-99% and reduce material costs by 30-70%.
“It could be one shot, and it’s done,” Evans said. “There are many claims, and I say claims because again, these are emerging technologies, but it is suggested that you can print the exterior walls, enclosure and even some interior partitions in 24-48 hours.”
A 3D printed house, when finished, could have a textured look, with multiple layers of concrete stacked horizontally. The printer receives instructions and lays the concrete accordingly. It repeats layer after layer until it forms a wall.
The 3D printer may be able to build houses with greater structural integrity than its wood frame counterpart. Concrete walls can withstand the extreme weather conditions of Iowa and concrete doesn’t burn like wood.
Although there are many advantages in terms of time, cost and design, 3D printing a concrete house is harmful to the environment.
“Concrete has a lot of carbon in it, and that’s one of the things that’s been identified as not being good for our environment,” Evans said. “We’re looking to try to find other material solutions that can be part of the material mix.”
One possible solution is to replace the carbon in the concrete mortar mix with hemp. Hemp would reduce the carbon footprint while keeping the strength of concrete.
As evidenced by the pros and cons of 3D printing, this is a multi-tiered project spanning many different industries. This project has staff and faculty from Architecture, Industrial Design, Materials Engineering, Community and Regional Planning, Landscape Architecture, and School of Education.
“There are some really exciting opportunities that complement 3D printing,” Evans said. “We try to make sure that when we talk about 3D printing technology, we also look at all these other new developments.”
“The AIT 3D Housing Project also plans to integrate additional technologies and digital workflows including geospatial information, building information and energy modeling, lidar and photogrammetry, onsite robotics, telepresence and advanced web technologies,” Evans said.
Some skeptics fear that this new technology will eliminate commercial jobs. However, Evans argues that 3D printing will create new jobs with more economic benefits.
“When people say the exterior of the house can be printed in 24 to 48 hours, that displaces a lot of people who were working on the framing, the walls of a house,” Evans said. “But those same people could be working on those machines. There will be a transition, a transition that we hope to be able to put in place with the educational components and the workforce components.
The knowledge required to build and operate 3D construction printers will be the focus of a new two-year tech program at Iowa Central Community College.
“This type of labor is in demand,” Evans said. “Being able to have someone who can operate these new machines or some of these new technologies deployed on a site is important so that we don’t just try to look at the building itself. We’re trying to figure out what it would mean to be able to support an education and workforce solution that can be replicated across the state.
The partnership with Iowa Central is ideal because they have adaptable building programs and an ideal space to house the 3D construction printer.
“Iowa Central has a building program right now. It would become a sophomore advanced technology in the building program,” Evans said. of formal and informal programs to be able to help educate the current workforce, the future workforce and to be able to create programs that we take around the state to be able to help educate and form.
The main objective of 3D AIT is to build affordable housing to accommodate ex-urban migration due to changing working conditions. But the secondary implications of this project – future jobs, educational opportunities and new design interpretations – are why students need to be informed and involved.
“This is the future you’re going to live in,” Evans said. “I can’t think of a more meaningful way to attack the future you’re about to live in than to help define it.”
The AIT 3D Housing Project hopes to get students involved through job opportunities like construction, computer technology, and materials research. These positions are available for graduate and undergraduate students.
The next stage of the 3D AIT project will be a demonstration project in Hamburg, Iowa.
“The residential development is about 40 homes, and that’s a separate grant that the state gives to a contractor,” Evans said. “As part of this development, we will likely be involved in printing around three to six demo homes. It may be this year; this may not be the case. It just depends [on the timing of weather and contractual factors]. We can also go down and print a pilot demo, demo demo, on another batch with this contractor depending on the schedule and machine availability. »