3d printed home

STAFF NEWS & ANALYSIS
How 3D Printing is Revolutionizing the Housing
By Luken Surge - August 11, 2018

The housing industry is like a roller coaster.

The housing crash left houses empty and people homeless. Some neighborhoods are still littered with empty and decaying homes, some having stood empty going on 10 years now.

By this point, a lot of these homes aren’t even worth repairing. Since the crash, there has been a lot of conversation, and demand, for more housing options.

And why not? Engineers have discovered cheaper, more eco-friendly and sustainable housing options. Why not use them?

Current homes were built between 40 and 100 years ago. They now show signs of wood rot, weakening foundation, insect infestations, and mold. And without modern insulation and windows, residents shoulder high power and heating costs.

These problems will only get worse as time goes on. But what’s going to replace them?

Will people build more of the same, or start building smarter?

New Era of Housing

If you imagine a “Jetsons” style future, you may be disappointed. Likely most structures will resemble current styles, but with hidden improvements in the materials and design.

When the market demands something new, the industry will eventually abide.

Alternatives to traditional homes are already popping up. And surprisingly, a lot of these options are significantly cheaper than current construction methods. Plus, many of these homes continue to save you money in efficiency in the long term.

How It Works:

3D printing a house works the same way as 3D printing on the smaller scale. Companies use a machine, choose from a range of building materials, program a layout, and then the machine does the work.

The early models of 3D printed homes created domed structures that looked more like cement igloos, and other easy shapes. But this technology is getting more sophisticated fast! Companies are developing more modern and complex models that will appeal to today’s market of home buyers.

What Problems Do 3D Printed Houses Solve?

3D printed homes are affordable

After the housing market crash, there are more people than ever on the search for cheaper housing options. Some models of the 3D printed homes can start as low as $4,000.

Shaw Academy Ltd

While there are some luxury features that you can add on for more, it’s still nothing compared to the cost of building a standard-model home.

Building materials are more eco-friendly

A lot of building materials used in 3D printing have a natural resistance to mold and insect infestations. 3D printed homes are built to be strong and sturdy while taking the environment into consideration.

Many companies are making use of yesterdays trash by recycling plastics, glass, and other materials.  This solves two problems at once: the housing crisis and reducing waste.

By using recycled materials to 3D print a new home it helps keep cost down for the buyer and takes better care of our planet at the same time.

3D printed homes are energy efficient

Energy efficiency is on the mind of developers as well. 3D printed homes are designed intelligently in order to keep monthly costs as low as possible. You can still have all your normal conveniences without the high costs.

3D printed homes can be built fast

Some can be completed in a matter of hours and still offer all the necessary accommodations a person, or small family needs. Even the more advanced models only take a few days to construct.

But the speed does not mean lower quality.

I once lived in an expensive neighborhood and would literally watch houses go up in a matter of weeks. While that sounds like it would be a good thing, within 5 years of being constructed the houses started breaking down a lot.

The house we lived in was only 5 years old and already baseboards were coming off the walls, wooden floors were warping, and more minor issues were popping up everywhere. Within those 5 years there were way more issues with the house than there should have been.

Dive deeper into the how’s and why’s of 3D here.

Housing the Homeless

There were around 554,000 homeless people in America in 2017, with 193,000 of them unsheltered. And out of that number of homeless, 40,000 of them were veterans according to U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).

There is no reason to have this many people homeless and unsheltered when technology like 3D printing exists. Especially when these numbers are worse in places where housing is especially expensive.

And in the meantime, some estimates say it costs $31,000 per year, per homeless person, just to police them. This doesn’t even begin factoring in the costs of shelters and homeless care programs.

Jeremy Faludi, a teacher at the Minneapolis College of Art and Design, summed up the greatest benefit of 3D printing of all: “It is putting the means of production into the hands of the local people”.

Housing does not have to be dominated by the super wealthy, whether that is here in the United States or around the world.

An Urban Solution:

One of the most popular urban concepts for housing the homeless were the hexagonal 3D printed structures. These are structures that can be constructed quickly and cheaply. And they easily integrate into the urban landscape.

hexagonal home

It’s a much better option than having people sleeping on the sidewalks. It would be a much better investment of city cash than using police and prisons.

There are a few different versions, from stand-alone structures to a model that stacks the 3D printed hexagonal pieces vertically, allowing for the whole thing to be attached to the side of a building.

Getting Started

If you want to get started building your own 3D house, check out this guide here for a list of companies that sell and build 3D constructed homes. They will work with you to design the kind of home you want, plan its features, and get started.

When everything on their end is ready to go, they will come out with their machine and put it all together for you. Or, they will bring the pre-fabricated pieces and install it on-site.

Either way, it is a pretty simple process for the homeowner.

Different Kinds of 3D Printed Housing

3d printed home

There are a number of different options when it comes to what they are made of and how they are made. While the field is still new, in time more and more styles and material options will hit the market. Here is a look at the options being developed now:

Materials:

Cement is the biggest building material currently. There are a few different kinds of cement already available, and a lot of development is going into creating new eco-friendly cement alternatives.

One of the biggest cement alternatives being developed is hemp concrete. Raw materials from the hemp plant create a strong cement for printed homes.

Another common alternative is plastic. There are organizations that are developing machines that can use shredded recycled plastic for printing material.

Polymers and foams are also proving to be a viable material for 3D printing construction projects. Foams and polymers have different properties that can make them more durable in different climates.

For example, Proto3000 is creating a high-temperature resistant material that can be used for both small grade printing projects up to things like construction and housing.

This means homes can be made out of materials that directly help with terrains and climates. A heat-resistant home will be cooler for hotter climates, while mold resistant materials will help in damp regions, and the list goes on.

Styles:

There are two main ways that 3D printed houses are made. Either they will bring a machine out and print it right there on site, or they will print the pieces off-site and then bring them to the site and install them.

The early version of 3D construction has come a long way. The dome is a popular style for those looking for an abstract or artistic feel. Though, even this style has evolved as they now look more like conch shells.

A few other options include arched, hexagonal, boxed, cylindrical, and a few other complex geometric shapes. There are a number of construction companies focusing on creating prefabricated models that can create more modern styles like cottages, ranches, and even multi-level homes.

And the United States is not the only country getting into this 3D construction thing. China has successfully printed a 2-story building. And it only took them a month and a half to print a house that would have taken them normally up to 6 months to build.

Whether you want an artistic abode, an eco-friendly cottage, or a full family home 3D printing is growing so fast that it might soon be the future of all three.

The tidal wave of change is upon us and these 3D printed houses could one day be the new norm.

Like any automation, this means job losses for people in the building sector. But click here to learn why that is not a bad thing for individuals or the economy.

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