Forget the traditional supplies of wood, stone, and brick—houses of the future could be made with recycled plastic printed right on site. As 3D printing grows across a number of industries, it is moving into architecture and making a case for being the building supply of the future.
Advantages of 3D Printing
3D printing is a relatively new concept that is traditionally for smaller models, but it has already been used in a number of full-size houses, cabins, and offices, with many more projects currently in production. In recent years, the size and design of 3D-printed houses has grown, expanding the technology from small sheds to full-size, multi-story homes and apartment buildings.
One of the main ways 3D printing stands out from traditional construction is its environmentally friendly nature. Typical construction of a single-family home yields three to seven tons of waste, including wood, drywall, and roofing materials, and only 40% of raw materials on site are actually consumed in the construction process.
In contrast, 3D printing materials can be reused and create very little waste. Plastic that is currently in landfills can be repurposed into materials for 3D printing. Most 3D printing construction projects are done off site, with walls or building sections made in a central factory and then shipped to the final destination. This not only reduces the amount of materials on the building site and speeds up the process, but also reduces waste and allows construction companies to reuse many of the scraps.
3D-printed homes are much less expensive, making them a great option for building homes in developing countries, where many people can’t afford traditionally build homes.
Urban areas in developing countries are growing five times faster than those in developed countries, meaning there is a great need for accessible houses. Buildings made on 3D printers also tend to be sturdier and can often withstand weather elements that would cause many traditionally built homes to crumble.
Traditional construction can take months for an average house, but 3D printing is much quicker. This not only allows homeowners to get into their houses sooner, but opens the door for quickly produced shelters or homes after natural disasters like earthquakes or tornados.
A 400-square foot home was recently 3D printed in under 24 hours with a total cost of just over $10,000. The company brought a mobile 3D printer to the construction site, which helped the process of printing and painting the walls go quickly and smoothly.
The home sections were printed with a concrete mixture and then joined together and topped with a roof.
Changing Real Estate
A growing number of firms are the world are developing their 3D printing home building processes, with hopes that it could drastically reduce the price of building a home.
Even if only some aspects of a house were printed on a 3D printer, the cost would likely drop significantly. This could pave the way for a more accessible real estate market in much of the world and end the mortgage bubble by making prices more realistic and achievable without a 30-year loan.
3D printing also opens the door to more creativity and could change the current trend of cookie-cutter suburban neighborhoods. 3D printing allows for unique architectural designs like domes and archways that would be impossible or too expensive using traditional construction practices, meaning that in the near future, a homebuyer could be able to have just about any home design he or she could imagine.
As printing technology grows, it will likely be able to be used for other home components like plumbing and electrical, meaning that soon every aspect of a home could be made on a printer.
3D printing has the power to revolutionize the home building market unlike anything we’ve ever seen. With advantages in cost, time, and environmental footprint, 3D printing seems to be the construction trend of the future.