3D printed housing community in the United States. Hope or reality?
3D printers have been around in some shape or form since the 80s. Usually, when we think of 3D printing, we imagine a bulky home 3D printer that you can use for creating plastic toys and funky wall hangers. However, the industry has flourished in many different ways. One of the branches is construction 3D printing. And yes, it looks exactly as it sounds. A construction 3D printer typically uses a concrete compound that is firm and sturdy, and it’s able to put up walls of a medium-sized home in less than a few days.
How does it work?
Construction 3D printers mainly have two configurations. First very much resembles a tabletop printer, only in a much bigger size. It has a rigid metal frame, and a nozzle, that moves freely within this frame, creating shapes. These printers obviously have size limitations of what they can build, but the nozzle does move smoothly enough to ensure straight walls.
The other type of construction 3D printer has a support leg and a long protruding arm, like a crane, that will deposit the concrete filament in a fluid circular motion. That’s why the end-result house has an “S”-like shape, or it can be perfectly circular.
What problems does it solve?
The first and foremost advantage of 3D printed constructions is cost-efficiency. It is a progressive and cheap way to provide housing to those in need and attempt to solve the housing crisis in many developing countries and in the US as well.
The construction of 3D printing is also a fast solution. Admittedly, it requires manual labor as well, for building the foundation, and putting in the roof, not to mention all the interior alterations. However, a printer can put up walls incredibly fast, compared to human labor, and be much less demanding. Just keep feeding the filament, and watch it go!
Construction 3D printing in the US
The United States is about to begin its 3D printed housing community history from the 5-acre desert land in California, called the Rancho Mirage. Although individual 3D printed homes do exist all over the US, this initiative, brought forth by Mighty Buildings construction firm, and Palari, a sustainable real estate firm, is the first in the country.
The initiative brings innovation to mainstream construction, creating 3-bedroom, 2-bath housing of up to 1,450 sq ft in area. The future houses of Rancho Mirage are not going to be aimed at the less privileged, however, with costs ranging from $595,000 to $950,000.
With that said, the Rancho Mirage initiative is still a milestone, as it brings new technologies closer to mainstream construction needs, and brings new solutions to the table.
The co-founder of Mighty Buildings Sam Ruben claims that their printers can complete a 350 sq ft home in less than 24 hours, which is a record speed for any construction. Naturally, this time frame excludes the foundation and interior work, but it is still very impressive.
Construction 3D printing aspires to solve the world’s housing crisis one community at a time and provide both cost-efficient and high-class solutions for communities everywhere.