Iowa City company uses 3D printing to build affordable homes
Alquist 3D, an Iowa City company, builds houses from 3D printers with concrete. The company recently built a house for Habitat for Humanity.
Local Iowa City company Alquist 3D is taking home building to the next generation.
The company builds the structure of the houses from 3D printers, which are then assembled and the plumbing and electricity added later. Traditionally, houses are built of wood, but the 3D printer works entirely in concrete.
“The idea behind this is to create efficiencies in the building process,” said Alquist 3D founder and CEO Zachary Mannheimer. “The construction industry hasn’t really changed at all in the last 100 years.”
Mannheimer founded the company six years ago when he discovered 3D printing and became obsessed with it, he said. He said there was a lack of affordable housing in the United States and that 3D printed houses were more cost effective.
“Housing costs are rising everywhere, everywhere,” Mannheimer said. “There are really only two solutions to help get back to the American dream of having people who can afford a home. The first is that companies have to pay their employees more to be able to meet rising costs. of building houses or to reduce the cost of building houses.
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The Virginia Chapter of Habitat for Humanity is home to the first 3D printed Habitat House after partnering with Alquist 3D in December 2021.
“The concrete, which we use to print, also provides additional long-term savings because it retains temperature better, which saves on heating and cooling costs,” said Janet V. Green, CEO of ‘Habitat for Humanity Peninsula and Greater Williamsburg. “And concrete is also more resistant to tornadoes, hurricanes and it doesn’t burn.”
Green said a common misconception of Habitat for Humanity is that the organization donates the homes it builds when it sells the homes to qualified families who have enough income to pay off an interest-free monthly mortgage. .
“We were very lucky here in Williamsburg, VA to have enough volunteers, especially on this 3D printed house, because so many people wanted to see what it looked like since it was the first in the country,” Green said.
Traditionally built houses typically require a dozen people to build and take at least two weeks, while 3D printed houses only require two people to assemble the wall pieces and can be assembled in as little as 20 hours. .
Mannheimer said there are plans for construction in Iowa this year that the company will announce in the spring.
“You have labor savings, you have material savings,” Mannheimer said. “Concrete is much cheaper than traditional wood. You have saved time.
Green said building the 3D-printed home in Virginia only took about 28 hours.
“We believe this will be just another way to build more affordable homes for these deserving low-to-moderate income families,” Green said.