Printing my new home

The 3D printer used to print a full house, exterior and interior, in just 24h at a cost of 275$ per square meter. Credit: Apis Cor

3D printing is becoming more flexible in terms of materials used to print and size. At the same time its cost keeps going down and these factors fuel applications.

3D printing a house is nothing particularly new. First experiments occurred in the last decade (starting with the printing of foundations, then moving on to the printing of walls...). In the last few years we have seen the industrialisation of house printing, particularly in China and India.

Houses are now being printed in different shapes (no longer looking like shoe boxes) and architects are starting to exploit 3D printing to create new shapes that would be difficult, and costly, to create with classic construction methods.

Most recently Apis Cor (see clip) has printed a full house, foundation to roof, exterior and interior, in just 24 hour at a cost of about 10,000$ (a small house, but still at a price of a small car).

Low cost and high speed are the differentiators that can push adoption of houses 3D printing at a large scale. Think about response to emergencies like an earthquake. In a few weeks brand new villages could be constructed.

Interestingly, engineers and architects are now starting to consider 3D printing houses as a way to create high tech structures, using smart materials and embedded with IoT. 

In the next decade my bet is that this technology, that NASA is considering as the one to create base stations on the Moon and Mars, will become widely used, replacing today's construction techniques. The possibility to customise constructions will likely stimulate do-it-yourself design applications and there will be a flourishing market for co-design and exchange of projects and ideas. We are likely to see new professions arising as today's builders will feel the heat of competition from unexpected quarters.

Author - Roberto Saracco

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