3D printing is having a big effect on many industries around the world, and the construction industry is no exception.
Here are seven interesting examples of proposed and in-development 3D printed housing projects from around the world. Perhaps you might want to get one printed for yourself in the not-too-distant future?
What is a 3D-printed house?
The answer is, quite literally, in the name. 3D-printed houses are created using very large 3D printers that, unlike smaller hobbyist or other types of industrial units, are able to extrude concrete, plastic, or other building materials through nozzles, in order to gradually build up a 3D object the size of a house.
These printers, specifically their nozzles, are able to move in multiple planes and are specifically designed to be very robust and hardy, as they generally need to operate outdoors on variable terrain.
To date, there are various research institutions and private enterprises working on the technique, and it is believed by some that the future of the construction industry may eventually come to rely on the descendants of current giant 3D printers.
Can you print a house, and how much does it cost?
3D printed houses are still something of a novelty and are largely still in development, but you can 3D print a house for a lot less money than having one built using more traditional construction methods. For some of the projects that are currently in development, costs are somewhere in the order of $10,000, although this is for a relatively small structure.
According to a report from The Verge on ICON's operation techniques "the 3D-printed house would be made of cement and take up to one day to be printed by large, 3D printing robots. Best of all, the homes would cost just $10,000. And ICON hopes that eventually, it can bring the cost of homes down to $4,000."
But it should be noted this is for a very small, 2-bed house. Larger constructions would likely cost more.
There are also some 3D homes that have been built up for less than half that.
How long do 3D printed houses last?
Since the vast majority of 3D printed houses are made from concrete, they should last a decent amount of time. With proper maintenance and continuous habitation, there is no reason they shouldn't last as long as more traditional concrete constructions.
Estimates vary, but most agree that they should at least last about 50 to 60 years.
Many 3D printed houses do have timber elements included which may be susceptible to decay over time if they are not treated or maintained properly.
Some other 3D printed buildings have been specifically designed to be biodegradable, and are only intended as used for temporary accommodation, for use in disaster relief operations and other short term housing needs.
Is it possible to take up residence in a 3D printed house? Well, most 3D printed houses created to date sway towards proof of concept builds, but there are some projects around the world that are working on techniques to produce 3D houses fit for habitation.
What are some examples of 3D printed houses?
So, without further ado, here are 7 interesting examples. This list is far from exhaustive and is in no particular order.
1. These tiny 3D houses in Mexico are pretty cute
In Mexico, a giant 3D printer is being used to create an entirely new neighborhood. Each house takes around 24 hours to complete and can house a small family.
The 32.8 feet (10 mt) long printer quickly churns out the shell of every 498 ft2 (152 m2) area; the roof, windows, and interiors are fitted later. A non-profit called New Story is behind the endeavor.
They have teamed up with ICON to make use of their enormous Vulcan II printer to create the houses.
The idea is to allow low-income residents in rural areas to move out of their shacks into these new, two-bed houses. It is thought that developments like this could one day help solve the housing crisis in many areas around the world.
2. This 3D printed house can operate off-grid
Called the PassivDom House, this house was designed to be as sustainable and energy-efficient as possible. It runs entirely on solar power and can even generate its water from the moisture in the air with an optional add-on.
It is created using a large 3D printer in a factory in Nevada and could be a game-changer for small housing in the future.
The shower in the bathroom can also clean and recycle water. All around, the house is designed to use as few resources as possible. Initially, the company wasn't aiming at creating an off-grid house, but as they developed upon their ideas, the team realized that it's a feasible option.
3. This Italian 3D-printed house is tiny but full of potential
An Italian 3D-printing company called WASP is building tiny houses to showcase the abilities of their revolutionary Crane WASP printer. This modular 3D printer can create homes in a variety of formats and sizes very rapidly indeed.
These new 3D printed houses, called Gaia, are 322 sq ft (30 sq mt) dwellings with a 3D printed outer shell and internal timber beams supporting each unit's timber roof. The above example was printed in situ in Massa Lombardo, which is a town in the Italian region of Emilia-Romagna in October of 2018.
The material for the house contains mud from the surrounding area and waste byproducts from rice production, such as straw and husks. Apparently, the house is also biodegradable!
4. These 3D printed houses look like something from an alien world
Developed through the collaboration of the Eindhoven University of Technology and Houben/Van Mierlo Architects, these 3D printed houses look like something you'd find on an alien world. They hope to produce a few units in the near future to be rented out at a reasonable price.
The Dutch university is set to construct around 5 of the buildings over the next five years and each one is almost completely made of concrete.
"The project is the world's first commercial housing project based on 3D-concrete printing," said the university. "The houses will all be occupied, they will meet all modern comfort requirements, and they will be purchased and let out by a real estate company."
5. This 3D printed house is also a work of art
Back in 2016, a team of architects in Chicago proposed an amazing design for a 3D printed house made of printed plastic, carbon-fiber panels, and glazed walls. The team won first prize in the Freeform Home Design Challenge and for a good reason.
The design for the 3D printed dwelling is incredibly bold and, compared to other examples above, makes the most of the technology. Called Curve Appeal, the building is actually a thing of beauty.
The plan was to 3D print the building in Chattanooga in Tennessee. It is planned to be completed in 2020.
6. This Amsterdam-based company created micro 3D printed homes
DUS Architects are planning to build tiny 3D printed micro-homes in Amsterdam. Each tiny 26.2 ft2 (8 m2) cabin comes with its own internal bathtub and is very cozy indeed.
Each 3D cabin is built using bio-plastic and the project is intended to demonstrate how additive manufacturing can offer solutions for temporary housing solutions in disaster areas, among other applications. When the cabin is no longer needed, it can be destroyed and almost all the materials can be reused.
"The building is research into compact and sustainable dwelling solutions in urban environments," said the team behind the cabins.
7. These 3D printed houses are made out of hemp
There are plans to build a set of hemp-based 3D printed houses in Australia in the not too distant future. Designed by the biotech company Mirreco, they hope to harness the "explosive potential of industrial hemp."
The company believes it should be possible to 3D print the floors, walls, and even roofs of buildings using carbon-neutral hempcrete panels. The company recently unveiled its plans that were developed in collaboration with Arcforms, an architectural company based in Perth.
“The floors, walls, and roof will all be made using hemp biomass, and the windows will incorporate cutting-edge technology that allows light to pass through the glass where it is converted into electricity,” Mirreco stated.
And that's your lot for today.