There are so many exciting alternatives to traditional home building that have arrived on the scene in last 20 years. Things from Aircrete homes, truck container homes, tiny homes and much more, usually less costly and more green. More recently, 3D printed homes, which uses new technology that can even build a home for around $4,000 in less than 24 hours.
3D printing has quite a history, while this new technology can be found in an average hobbyists home, it actually dates back as far as the 1970's. Back then, it was just exploring possibilities, but currently, it has become very viable and useable option to create all sorts of things.
The machinery it takes to create small items with 3D printing, were then envisioned to a magnified size for creating larger projects, one of them being homes. So, where are we with 3D printed homes, what are limitations and what does the future hold. Let's explore...
3D Printed Homes - The Future of Building?
How Does it Work?
3D printed homes are actually still a work in progress, also called BOD homes, or Building On Demand homes. There are several companies leading the way in this technology. Very simply, this uses a computer modeling, coding, large expensive machinery and the foam or concrete. However, there are some things to point out..
- Limitations - This technology certainly still needs a construction team and the equipment is very expensive.
- Advantages - The technology allows for reproducibility, lower cost, speed, less labor and great quality.
These 3d printers essentially work off something that looks like a mini crane with a tube that pumps out a concrete like material in a tube. It's pattern being produced by a 3D model where the machine follows a pattern to build up the wall frames. There are very different methods, some homes still implementing traditional framing along site the filling, metallic enforcements to the concrete and other supporting materials.
Cost & Quality
While you hear of these homes being made for as low as $4,000, this is because of the extremely low cost of materials. For a small home, the foam like filling can be well under $1,000 but still requires a foundation, insulation (rice is actually used as an option for this), electrical, plumbing, roofing, flooring and more. Overall, you can do a small home with all these unfurnished for $4,000. The equipment is another story. But, you can also do very large extravagant homes with multi stories. The possibilities are endless.
The quality of these home frames are very good, expecting to last upwards of 70 years easily. There is a preciseness to using technology without human error, the materials are high quality and the laying method of the machine is functionally strong.
If you are thinking of building a single home with this method for yourself for $4,000, it simply isn't going to happen yet. The machines available are limited to a few companies around the world, they require special crew knowledge and cost to get the equipment to your land is high. So what's the point?
There are some exciting uses for this technology. Humanitarian projects are a very large part of it. Companies and non-profits are taking on projects in counties where living conditions are very poor, some having homes that look more like small sheet metal frames without security or protection from harsh weather. For a project to make sense and be cost effect to where you can get those $4,000 homes. You need to build 4 or more homes a month using the 3D method. You can build a small home out in 24 hours too, so making a community of 50 homes is quite possible and a great humanitarian project worth using this.
There is also an option for those planing hotel bungalows, building out individual bungalows in large amounts for use of a hotel can work quite well. Overall, the point being, you really need to build in bulk still for it to make sense.
It doesn't really make sense to buy a prebuilt one either as you can get pre manufactured or put together yourself homes pretty easily, even from Amazon.com
The Future of 3D homes
As with all technology, things become easier, more cost effective and smaller. The desired future of this technology is to get away from the large equipment that looks more like giant cranes. Using a central hub unit, something that is compact and can be put in the center of a frame is already made as seen in the picture above. The unit can be pre programed, connected to the materials and put to work. Hopefully, just requiring a shipping fee and the capability of taking care of its own insulation addition and some sort of reinforcement in the concrete. It would be great if the average person can follow instructions, build a foundation, place the equipment, turn it on and go to sleep only to wake up to a built home frame. Then simply ship back the rental equipment.
There is more to come with this technology, so it's exciting to see it advance and one day, you may even find it as an easy option to build a cheap home on your land.
What are 3D printed homes?
In simple terms, a 3D printed home uses the same technology as small 3D printers. Using a computer generated 3D designed home, a 3D system can build a home based on the specifications using materials such as concrete. The size of the equipment needed can range in size and price depending on the size of the home.
Are 3D printed homes affordable?
3D printed homes can be affordable, even as low as $4,000 for the unfurnished home. The high cost is the equipment, due to the cost of renting this equipment, homes would have to be built in bulk to get the price cost down of the homes.
Are 3D homes safe enought to live in?
3D homes are made with great quality and can last 50 or more years. Given the homes are produced with precision by computer generated plans and machines. There is little room for error and the concrete is laid in such a way by the machines to withstand tough conditions and deterioration.
How big are 3D printed homes?
Surprisingly, there have been some very large luxury 3D printed homes. However, some of the most common uses with 3D printed homes are small humanitarian homes due to the low cost, ability to manufacture them fast and with great reproducibility. These homes are small and around the size of a small studio.