3D printed houses
The idea behind 3D printing a house is very simple – you plot out a Cartesian coordinate version of a house, programme that route map into a printing machine, fill the machine with printing material, and watch it go. We already 3D print homes for bees, so why not ones for humans as well?
3D printers work by extruding layers of material – in this case mainly filaments of cement – in thin layers, gradually building upwards according to the prescribed pattern to create the desired final shape.
It is possible to both print sections of a dwelling in a factory and assemble them all on site, or to print the whole house as one continuous unit in situ. It is the latter idea which is proving to be the most interesting. For instance, in China a large house was built in 48 days which the developers claim can stand up to a magnitude 8 earth quake and in the USA there are companies currently working out ways to mass produce houses on site in record time.
It is worth bearing in mind that these rapid build times don’t necessarily tell the whole story. Even if a building itself can be built in a day, it still takes time to wire in the utilities and do the landscaping. However, the 3D printing process so many potential benefits that it is a very exciting option for the future.
It is ideal for places where there is a lack of skilled labour and in remote areas where getting supplies can be tough. It is an affordable process with very little waste and only uses a minimal amount of energy during construction, making it the exact opposite of traditional construction techniques. It uses low cost, natural materials and makes an incredibly strong house which is capable of standing up to extreme weather.
With all of the above in consideration, it is likely that the developing world in particular could see some serious benefits from 3D printed houses.