3D printing technology is now being used to construct homes worldwide. But don’t start packing just yet.
Construction 3D printing development began in the mid 1990’s. Prototype buildings were fabricated with both precast and 3D printed components. The earliest printers used polymer and metal materials, and a ceramic extrusion and shaping method was patented in 1995. By the 21st Century, construction scale 3D printing of cementitious and ceramic pastes emerged. This new method encompassed automated integration of modular reinforcement, built-in plumbing, and electrical services within one continuous build process. In 2008 3D Concrete Printing began with an eye on commercial development.
Fast forward to 2016: The first home was printed in Beijing, China without being pieced together from a number of different components. The 4300 square foot villa is two stories and was fabricated in 45 days, non-stop, using giant printers ejecting special reinforced concrete. The home is now open for public viewing and is said to have been completed without much physical work.
Will computer-controlled 3D printers become the new norm for home construction?
3D Construction printers are now being manufactured and sold commercially and promise to revolutionize the way that buildings are constructed with a fully automated process that reduces costs.
Icon, a Texas based company, unveiled the Vulcan ll printer this past week, and is on a mission to build affordable housing, faster and cheaper, around the world. This new method of homebuilding promises to cut costs of homebuilding by 30-50 percent compared to traditional construction methods. Icon is working with New Story, a Silicon Valley based nonprofit company, to build safe housing for those living in extreme poverty.
The goal is to build a 600 to 800 square foot, single story home, with 2 bedrooms, a kitchen and a bathroom (the roof is not printed) that is both energy-efficient and resilient to storms. Each home can be constructed by two to four people in 12 to 24 hours build time, with a cost as little as $3,500.
The printer will fit on a truck and is set on tracks during construction. It uses mortar (a concrete material) that ejects out in layers, to build floors and walls, and hardens as it goes. Although similar printers sell for $2.5M, the manufacturer is aiming to have the printer available at a considerably lower cost; maybe less than $100,000. The lifespan of the technology has not been determined as of yet, but it is estimated that a single printer will produce at least 1,000 homes.
Developers claim it will be many years before 3D Printers will be fabricating homes like the ones you and I live in but the tech is ready now to print very high-quality, safe homes and may be the answer to the housing affordability crisis in many parts of the US and throughout the world. Until then, when it’s time for you to buy a new home in the Orlando area, call me…I can help with that now! Janice White, Realtor #407-973-8762