3D Printing: The Future of Housing?

In 2004, the first 3D printed wall was created by a professor at the University of South Carolina, Behrokh Khoshnevis. He did this by developing an FDM (Fused Deposition Modeling) 3D printing machine with an attached robotic arm, that had the ability to hold and position concrete layers rather than the usual plastics. We are now halfway through 2018 and are capable of building a 3D printed home in just 24 hours.

Could this be the future of construction? of the housing industry? of living? Hopefully, this article will not only help you decide your answer to that question but will educate you on the advantages and disadvantages of 3D printing homes.

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Costs and Waste reduced

Using 3D printing technology will reduce the number of materials wasted because the machinery is designed to produce one layer at a time, using only the necessary amount of material required. Therefore meaning that there is a near zero waste rate. This, in fact, could decrease the amount of waste dumped in the ocean and slow down the demand for more materials.

In addition to this, 3D printing also has a high chance of reducing the number of unnecessary costs spent also. Furthermore, it has been estimated that 3D printing will reduce manufacturing costs by £130 billion- £450 billion, which means money can be spent on more important things.

Increase in Construction Speed

Building a house manually can take up to a week depending on weather conditions, the land that it’s built on and the size/design of the property. However, after the small number of tests and attempts to build a home, it has been reported to only take around 20-24 hours using 3D printed machinery.

Completely New Architectural Design

We believe a huge benefit to this whole process is that it introduced us to a whole new perspective to housing and could incredibly impact the housing crisis positively or negatively. The simple idea that it saves time, money and materials give us hope that it could be the solution (or one of) to the global housing crisis.

“Our current housing crisis is extremely related to our urban growth and lack of resources,’ says Anielle Guedes, founder of Urban3D. ‘I believe that 3D printing gives us a possibility of building not only faster but more efficiently, which makes it a perfect technology to address the challenge.

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Although 3D printing has many valid benefits, there is also a list of disadvantages to 3D printing in the housing industry also. For instance:

3D Printing is Limited

Despite its significant impact 3D printing has had

on more or less every industry, vital resources and qualities such as materials, scale and sizes are very limited, which is actually a big problem for companies (and the general public) that want 3D printing to become a more reliable and permanent piece of equipment. Moreover, materials that can be used for 3D printing are still restricted and under development, so a lot of consumers with basic printers probably stick to materials such as plastic and metal. Plastic is the preferred material for choice because it can quickly be deposited in melted, shapeable layers to form the final product, however, it is a limited material.

Objects are printed one at a time, period. 3D printers haven’t been around long enough to explore their fullest potential, so we have to deal with what we have presently. The majority of basic 3D printers can only print objects measuring up to 1 cubic foot/yard, so the process is impatiently long and fast simultaneously.

3D Printing isn’t as Friendly as Everyone Says

Sure.. 3D printing has been proven to decrease Co2 emissions and reduce waste. However 3D printing uses high-voltage power supplies, heavy and expensive equipment and difficult materials that need to be produced and developed. Like I said earlier, 3D printers haven’t been around long enough for all of the issues to be solved, so for now, it’s not as user-friendly as everyone says.

Finally, Increase in Energy Consumption

3D printers are very intelligent and work hard and accurately to form a final product. But in spite of that, 3D printers consume a lot more energy than injection moulding, approximately 50 to 100 times more according to Loughborough University’s research. Additionally, more energy in the air means more heat and pollution, which dramatically affects the environment. As a result of this, 3D printing is probably better suited for small production batches.

In conclusion…

The global housing crisis requires a sustainable and affordable solution… and fast. After reading the advantages and disadvantages, 3D printing could be the solution as it would benefit the housing industry and home hunters widely. On the other hand, there are a lot of understandable disadvantages that possibly contradict the benefits, what do you think?

Thanks for reading.