3D Printing Homes

Numerous companies have diverged into the home building aspect with new 3D printer concepts taking home building well past the 21st century. Architects have been contemplating for a few years now on which 3D printers 3D printing homes should use. With regular recreational 3D printers being highly useful they only offer a few of the possibilities for 3D printing homes compared to concrete 3D printers. Building one house takes several months at a time leaving tons of byproduct waste and with 3D printers waste and time become no longer an issue.

3D Printing Houses

WinSun is a Chinese decoration design engineering company that has created a 3D printer that can construct a set of ten single story 3D-printed homes in under 24 hours. These 3D printed homes are 3D printed in prefabricated panels which fit together on site and were created using WinSun’s custom-built 3D printer which measures 10 meters by 6.6 meters and took the company twelve years to develop. Formed with a cement-based mixture containing construction waste and glass fiber, each of the houses cost just $5,000 to build.

Ma Yihe, CEO of WinSun, is optimistic about the future of this technology though the houses are fairly simple he hopes to one day use their 3D printer to create skyscrapers. Ma stated to the International Business Times that “Industrial waste from demolished buildings is damaging our environment, but with 3D-printing, we are able to recycle construction waste and turn it into new building materials. This would create a much safer environment for construction workers and greatly reduce construction costs.”

With WinSun making significant progress on a yearly basis since their initial start back in 2014 it won't be long till they accomplish their skyscraper status. Maybe in a few years after 2020 they will have progressed enough to attempt to build a 3D printed skyscraper with this technology but as of right now this technology is nowhere close to being used to build skyscrapers. It is however taking a step in the right direction with 3D printing this 5 story apartment complex.

Apartment Complex

Unveiled at the Suzhou Industrial Park east of the China’s Jiangsu Province, this 3D printed apartment complex consists of 5 stories and doesn't even appear to resemble anything close to being 3D printed once fully complete and decorated. By far this 3D printed apartment complex is probably one of the the most exciting accomplishments within the 3D printing architecture category. To be able to construct a 5-story apartment complex with this 3D printed concrete material is certainly an accomplishment that shouldn't go unnoticed.

The 3D printed apartment complex features a structure which is ​​approximately 1,100 square meters in size thanks to their 3D printer which measures at a staggering 20 feet tall, 33 feet wide and 132 feet long. The team at WinSun starts off with a basic CAD drawing which is fed to the massive 3D printer that is able to fabricate the structure piece-by-piece using a specially formulated and patented ‘ink’ concrete-based mixture. The walls and other components of the structure were fabricated offsite with a diagonal reinforced print pattern and then shipped in and pieced together. The company then placed beam columns and steel rebar within the walls, along with insulation, reserving space for pipe lines, windows and doors.

The construction methods, according to the company, are able to save 60 percent of the materials typically needed to construct a home, and can be 3D printed in a time span which equates to just 30 percent of that of traditional construction. In total, 80 percent less labor is needed, meaning more affordable construction, and less risk of injury to contractors.

Two-Story 3D Printed Villa

Beijing-based HuaShang Tengda is a major competitor for it's fellow Chinese construction company WinSun. According to Dr. Berokh Khoshnevis, creator of this technique for 3D printing buildings, states that HuaShang Tengda is something completely different from its fellow competitor stating that what they do is actually 3D print an entire house without the need to 3D print corners and walls and then later reassmble them together. Though the Chinese company has 3D printed an entire mansion in just 45 days it doesn't compare to HuaShang Tengda's two story villa that measures about 4,305 square feet and able to withstand an earthquake measuring 8.0 on the Richter scale.

The ambitious company 3D printed the villa uses 20 tons of ordinary concrete. For being extremely tough and durable and as an inexpensive material concrete it makes for the ideal material for 3D printing needs. HuaShang Tengda states that any concrete material can be used with the process, so that other construction firms can take advantage of what is locally available. The walls are up to eight feet thick, and once they were 3D printed workers painted and decorated the house changing the entire look and feel of the villa.

According to HuaShang Tenda, “[This technology] will have immeasurable social benefits…because of its speed, low cost, simple and environmentally friendly raw materials, [it can] generally improve the quality of people’s lives.”

HuaShang Tenda has tested that this process saves anywhere between 30 and 60 percent of construction waste, and can decrease production times by between 50 and 70 percent, and labor costs by between 50 and 80 percent. Less waste, cheaper houses and you can 3D printed homes at a faction of the speed is no ordinary feat to accomplish but the fact that they say that it can allegedly withstand an 8.0 on the Richter scale and could save thousands if not millions of lives is something China desperately needs in its earthquake-prone regions.

America's First 3D Printed House

China and Beijing aren't the only ones getting into the 3D printing home building aspect, American Sunconomy company has teamed up with Russian 3D printers Apis Cor. Though it will take awhile for Sunconomy to catch up to HuaShang Tengda and WinSun for they are in the early stages of 3D printing houses it's not stopping them from trying to reach their crowd-funding for this project with a goal of over $500,000.

The Apis Cor circular 3D printer has a different concept than other 3D printers with a rotating base and a crane-like arm it can rotate and swivel in all directions but the only downfall is it is only confined to being 3D printed from the inside of the house. At just 5.5 x 1 x 1.5 meters, this compact 3D printer can fit into a standard transportation truck and is perfect for building entirely on-site without the need for strenuous physical labor or expensive transportation of the materials.

Sunconomy's aim isn't to just 3D print houses but to teach others about the importance of sustainability. With greater numbers of people living in poverty across both America and the world rising on a yearly basis Sunconomy hopes that through perseverance they will find a solution through this technology and hope to change people's lives in the process. Sunconomy's next step is to build over 100 affordable homes set within a 21-acre ‘Eco-village’ that are able to stand EF5 tornados, generate it's own power with portable water and be completely customizable for the consumer.

Amsterdam's First 3D Printed House

Dus Architects has teamed up with Dutch company Ultimaker and has now developed the KamerMaker ("Room Maker"). Dus Architects 3D printer is big enough to 3D print huge building blocks up to 2x2x3.5 meters high. Can you imagine this building blocks being connected together like LEGO bricks and being fully customizable to the user's needs to come together to create their perfect house, well that's what Dus Architects was thinking when they came up with not so crazy idea.

What they are introducing is something different in it's design patterns on the outside. With the ability to create tiny noticeable features on the outside gives this technology a different appeal to the other 3D printers out there. Heinsman says “We're still perfecting the technology,” and “It's an experiment.” But by the end of 2017 the entire canal house will have been 3D printed however the blocks will need to be back-filled with lightweight concrete. Dus Architects current material it's not yet as biodegradable as they would like to be and still falls under the category of 3D printing a house with concrete as a technicality.