3D printing homes will provide Americans with a roof over their heads. They can withstand a tornado and are ready in two months

Source: Apis Cor
  • The whole world is currently struggling with a shortage of houses, apartments and building materials. Many companies are trying to solve it by 3D printing buildings

  • This trend is most pronounced in the United States, where up to four million homes are missing. Hundreds of 3D printed buildings are currently being built there

  • These are made of concrete, so they survive various types of natural disasters. The printing of the walls itself takes only a few days, but many parts of the construction must be obtained using traditional techniques, which extends their construction by two to three months.

If I can’t afford to build or buy a house, I will print it. Normally on a 3D printer. Although this technology is increasingly used, it still looks a bit like science fiction. However, people around the world are promising that this could solve the global excess of demand for housing over the amount of real estate.

The housing crisis is currently intensifying in the United States, where nonprofits and nonprofits are printing on buildings. An example is the construction company Apis Cor from Florida. The panels are printed by an “employee” named Frank, who has only one arm, but is almost five meters tall. This professional works on the basis of computer designs, and the plastic beads from which the company presses the walls keep falling from him.

This is a giant 3D printer, which has already undergone a number of experiments with the possibilities of effectively creating houses that would quickly provide housing not only for American families. The company, founded by Anna Cheniuntai, sees innovation as a business opportunity. After all, it was his company that was the author of the largest printing house in the world – the government building in Dubai. This architectural work has two floors, a white facade and round walls. It measures nine and a half meters and has a total of 640 square meters of usable area.

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By contrast, Habitat for Humanity, which launched its first printed house last year in Williamsburg, Va., is nonprofit. “We’re just getting started with 3D printing,” said company director Janet Green. “But hopefully we can make a difference and make housing more affordable across the United States,” she told the LA Times. The prototype of their building has all the characteristics of an ordinary family house, it was completed in 28 hours and according to calculations it will survive a tornado and an earthquake.

Element and hostel for the needy

It’s not just Americans who are grappling with housing shortages – companies in northern Italy, for example, are trying to print houses out of clay. In our country, the sculptor and businessman Michal Trpák, whose house Prvok was seen on the banks of the Vltava in 2020, deals with printed houses. It consists of layers of concrete that made up the robotic arm. The construction of the house took 32 hours and cost tens of millions of crowns. The result is a portable object that does not contain a single right angle.

Although the Prvok design project was very expensive even for the conditions of a normal house, it is the relatively low price of mass-produced buildings that is their greatest advantage. According to the consulting server Pick3DPrinter, for example, the aforementioned company Apis Cor calls for around 10,150 dollars (227,000 crowns) for printing a small stand. However, it is really a so-called small house. According to Professor Andrew McCoy of the Virginia Center for Housing Research, the family home with an area of ​​150 square meters will sell for around 264,000 to 330,000 dollars (5.9 to 7.4 million crowns). In addition, the final price of course depends on the specific project, its location and its equipment.

Even so, print building owners will save significantly, compared to a quarter of US citizens who will receive more than half of their monthly income. In addition, constructions from 3D printers could help solve another burning problem of local society, namely reducing the number of homeless people. According to the PBS.org report, four million households live in cars, on the streets, in yurts or tents.

Let the hurricane come

The rise in house prices concerns the whole world – the value of real estate has increased in recent years in almost all countries. According to the Statista website, the most expensive currently is an apartment building in Hong Kong, which will cost an incredible $1.25 million on average.

However, for 3D printing to really solve the problem of the lack of houses and apartments in the future, the technology still needs to be improved. Today, it requires a lot of expensive equipment and at the same time several construction phases still have to be carried out in the traditional way. For example, foundations, roofing, insulation, windows and power lines cannot be printed, so construction companies continue to face a shortage of materials. This, of course, extends the build time itself. “Construction of an average wooden building today takes at least seven months. However, with our technology, we will complete construction in two to three months,” Cheniuntai said.

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Some companies in the United States have already started tackling homelessness using 3D printing. Like Icon Co., which is building five hundred homes in Texas. But only time will tell how long these colonies will last. The region is hit by hurricanes every year. In any case, Zach Mannheimer, boss of the construction company Alquist 3D, assures that in the case of his company, these houses will resist, because they are essentially concrete blocks. Therefore, the tornado does not blow and burn them during forest fires. After all, he himself oversaw the construction of the Habitat for Humanity house, so he had to think of everything.

Bet on uncertainty

However, concrete masses pay a tax in the form of a giant carbon footprint, which their construction leaves behind – concrete production remains the third most polluting industry. Companies are therefore trying to replace it with other materials, while their manual laborers fear being replaced by a robotic arm machine. However, this does not have to be the case – abroad the labor market situation is similar to that at home. There are more vacancies than qualified people.

When asked if 3D-printed homes will hold up in the long term to traditional construction, experts agree: it’s too early to make estimates. Even tech geeks understand that many people won’t want to invest their life’s savings in a concrete shed with an uncertain future. For most homeowners, their construction or purchase is a lifelong investment, so they want to bet for sure.

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