How Can You Possibly 3D Print a House?
A 3D printed house is a house composed of 3D printed elements, such as 3D printed floors, walls, and even roofs. Construction 3D printers look like super-sized desktop Fused Filament Fabrication/Fused Deposition Modeling (FFF/FDM) 3D printers that come in three flavors: they either use a gantry, a rotating mechanical arm, or mobile robots. However, unlike a desktop 3D printer, a construction 3D printer can cost anywhere between around $180K to over $1M. Robotic arm systems tend to be more expensive than gantry-type systems.
Today, construction 3D printers can extrude concrete and mixtures of concrete and recycled construction products as filament. The material is pushed out of a special nozzle to form layers, similar to using a piping bag to spread frosting on a cake. The printer creates the foundations and walls of the house or building, layer by layer. The ground is literally the printer’s build plate.
Why 3D Print a House?
There are many benefits of using construction 3D printing than traditional house building. First is the time – construction 3D printing saves time, uses less material, and requires less manual labor. Second is the cost – have you seen the cost of lumber these days? Wow, it is estimated that a 3D printed house costs 30% to 55% less than a traditionally-built house. As an example, the famous 3D construction company “Apis Cor” 3D printed a small house for less than $10,000, while another company “ICON“, 3D printed compact 3D homes in disaster-stricken countries, each for less than $4,000. Both companies claim they can 3D print a house in less than 24 hours!
Some examples of 3D printed buildings:
Other Benefits of Construction 3D Printing
- Eco-friendly: 3D printed houses can be built with organic, eco-friendly materials and some use solar energy and generate low CO2 emissions.
- Scalable: construction 3D printing reduces certain building costs. For example, the cost for 1 square meter of wall using traditional construction methods is approximately $75, whereas with the Apis Cor house 3D printer, it is only $27.
- Efficient: since the materials are 3D printed on demand, there is less waste. Also, construction 3D printers can finish a home’s foundations in less than a few days (this includes curing of the layers, typically 1-20 minutes between layers), while traditional construction methods take several weeks or even months.
- Design flexibility: with a construction 3D printer, you can easily create curved walls and unique facades.
Limitations of Construction 3D Printing
- Expensive initial investment: construction 3D printers can be expensive, more than $1M.
- Partially-built houses: construction 3D printers typically only build house frames. The 3D printing process is usually paused to manually settle plumbing, wiring and rebars.
- Rough exterior: most 3D printed homes’ exteriors are not as smooth as traditionally-built houses. This can be addressed with some post-processing clean-up.
So, is 3D printing good for the economy? It can help impoverished cities and disaster-stricken countries rebuild faster, but does it create much less employment for local workers?
Are you ready to print your new house? Use the “COBOD” company’s cost calculator to get an estimate of what it would cost.