Author: Anthony Gilbert Category: 3D Printing, Guest Blogger

3D printing, or additive technology, has come quite some way and may soon overcome challenges and be used to potentially create more affordable housing and drive down construction costs. 3D printed homes may move from fantasy to reality as it potentially disrupts the construction industry. What is the potential of this technology as it is applied to the construction industry?

Could 3D-printed Houses Offer More Benefits?

Australian researchers suggest that 3D printed homes may provide unique benefits to homeowners. Housing markets may have more affordable housing available and buyers may benefit from architectural flexibility in design and construction. Affordable housing is an issue in many communities and 3D-printed houses could make homeownership more accessible for first-time homebuyers. 3D-printed houses and building may make inroads into addressing the global housing crisis and offer an inexpensive solution.

Those who are interested in sustainable construction methods may want to know that 3D-printing produces significantly less waste during manufacturing. In addition, homes may be constructed in days, reducing labor costs and getting owners quickly into a 3D-printed house. This technology serves to address problems in the construction industry such as long building times, wasted materials and shortages in skilled construction workers.

Could 3D-printed Houses Be Coming to Local Communities?

Some predict that 3D printing housing construction may be coming to communities in as little as five to ten years. 3D printed structural nodes have been designed to connect flat concrete walls to other parts of a building. Layered fabrication through Contour Crafting technology makes it possible to construct a single house or neighborhood in one run. WinSun, a Chinese company, has been able to print 10 houses and an apartment building through the use of 3D printing technology. Families may be able to live in 3D printed homes once the technology moves past the experimental stage and become a practical option in the construction industry.

Will 3D Printing Drive Down Home Construction Costs?

According to Dr. Behrokh Khoshnevis, creator of Contour Crafting technology at the University of Southern California, a 3D-printed home may be approximately 10 percent cheaper to construct than current traditional methods. This can make real estate investment more attainable for the average investor. In addition, the building of emergency shelters and low-income housing may become more cost-effective.

Could the Industry Build Better with 3D Printing Technology?

Designers and those interested in unique structural features may appreciate the architectural flexibility that may be available through 3D printing technology. While this may not help to drive down manufacturing costs, it may make it easier to design unusual structures to meet the demands of demanding clients. It may be possible to customize dwellings from metal, wood or stone using 3D printing in the next decade or so.

What About Homeowners Hit by Natural Disasters?

As it has been seen in recent news, many individuals in various communities have been impacted by floods, hurricanes, and other natural disasters. This has left individuals and families scrambling for shelter and waiting long periods to rebuild. 3D printing technology may be able to provide temporary shelter or long-term homes to those affected. Residents may even be able to design their own exact replicas of their lost home and furniture using the advancing technology.

What Challenges Make Manufacturing Using 3D Printing Difficult?

There is a range of opinions making it hard to determine when the technology will be mature enough to become common in the construction industry. The materials used require different drying times and pose a current challenge. However, progress has been made and 3D printers can not only print hard plastic but soft plastic and wood.

Can Homebuyers Design Their Own Home with 3D Printing Technology?

The average homebuyer may feel empowered to design some or all of their dream home with 3D printing technology. The curvature is easier to achieve using this technology when compared to stick frame construction. Furthermore, homes may be able to be built on smaller sites inaccessible to cranes, allowing urban dwellers more housing options. Buyers and builders may be able to create a home with custom features with greater efficiency and a surprisingly accessible price point with this unique technology. There is much more to come as the technology evolves and starts being used throughout the industry.

 

Anthony Gilbert

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