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How 3D Printing Could Revolutionize The Housing Industry
Using 3D printers to build new homes is cheaper, faster, and often more environmentally friendly.
Over the years, 3D printers have been used to create novelty objects, furniture, shoe designs, toys, and other products. Some 3D printers even produce perfectly edible and tasty foods, and can even produce human organs, such as bladders, to successfully use for human transplants. Even after everything 3D printers have accomplished thus far, their (somewhat) newfound ability to print full-sized houses still has been met with surprise, awe, and fascination.
Although only a small amount of 3D printed homes have been built within the United States, it already seems like they could be the solution to the nation’s housing shortage crisis and make homes more affordable in the process. These houses are made using computer-generated designs and 3D printers that essentially print concrete. And recently, 3D printed homes took the internet by storm after Habitat for Humanity completed construction on its first 3D printed home in Virginia. If you’re not familiar with the organization, Habitat for Humanity relies on volunteers to build homes for low-income families. Through the Habitat Homebuyer Program, people who qualify can purchase affordable housing through “sweat equity” and by making no-interest mortgage payments that Habitat for Humanity reinvests into building new homes. For this Virginia family, 3D printing technology allowed their home’s structure to be built in just 12 hours, which saved about a month of construction time that a typical house would require. The home is 1,200 square feet, has three bedrooms, and two full bathrooms. The family happily moved into their new home just before the holidays in 2021.
At the same time, other 3D printed homes are just starting to pop up around the country. In Tempe, Arizona, Habitat for Humanity is hard at work building another 3D printed home. The family is expecting to move into the home in February of 2022. In California, Palari Homes and Mighty Buildings have collaborated to start a new housing development, consisting entirely of 3D printed homes. At the time of this writing, 82 of these homes have already sold and the waiting list for more of these 3D homes has reached the low thousands. Meanwhile, the world’s first 3D printed home showroom has opened in Florida, where those who are interested can learn more about how the homes are printed and what materials are used.
At this point, you might be wondering if 3D homes are safe. Can they withstand the elements? Will they last a long time? Are they durable? So far, experts have found that the answer is a resounding yes. 3D printed homes are safe, durable, and long-lasting. Experts seem to agree that there is no reason a well-maintained 3D printed home shouldn’t last as long or longer than traditional concrete, which is around 60 years. And because 3D printed homes are made from concrete, they might even be safer and sturdier than traditionally built homes. Like traditional homes, 3D printed houses have to be up to code in order for them to be inhabited by couples or families, meaning safety is a top priority. But because they are made from concrete, 3D printed homes may provide extra protection against severe weather, such as hurricanes or tornadoes. And in places like Florida that are prone to storms, flooding, and mold, 3D printed houses are proving to be more resistant to the elements. After all, you won’t find something like wood rot in a house that’s made from concrete!
In addition, 3D printed homes are proving to be more efficient and environmentally friendly, starting with saving significant amounts of energy at construction sites. And 3D printed homes, like the one Habitat for Humanity built in Virginia, can be EarthCraft Certified. This means the house is designed to reduce utility costs and minimize the environmental impact the home has.
But what really makes us wonder if 3D homes will revolutionize the housing industry is just how quickly and cheaply they can be built. In a housing market that is currently plagued by insanely high prices and shortages in both labor and inventory, being able to quickly and affordably produce new houses seems like the obvious solution. Kirk Andersen, director of operations for the New York-based 3D-printing construction company SQ4D, stated that his company could complete 40% of a home in just under 6 months. He said the same project would have taken up to a year using traditional building practices. With other professionals also reporting savings in time, money, and labor, we wouldn’t be surprised if building homes via 3D printing becomes much more popular in the near future.
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