In addition to drastically reducing waste, improving the building process, and improving lives, the introduction of 3D printed homes could also extend the dream of home ownership for millions.
Having your home built is a multi-faceted procedure. It’s exciting and rewarding, for sure, but it’s also quite often–like, 99.9 percent often–a stressful and time-consuming undertaking. From the delays in production time to the endless budget increases thanks to unforeseen expenses, the residential building process is good at draining emotional reserves and financial resources.
In the most exhaustive study on residential construction waste, the EPA reported that 136 million tons of debris was generated by construction and demolition (C&D) waste in 1996. Of the number, 43 percent was a result of residential C&D waste. And of that 43 percent, 55 came from renovations, 34 from demolition, and 11 from construction. Furthermore, a residential construction and demolition (C&D) waste study conducted by the Houston Advanced Research Center showed that 90 percent of the C&D waste that accrues in landfills is actually reusable or recyclable.
Also alarming are the OSHA statistics regarding construction workers. Approximately 40,000 injuries occur on residential construction sites each year, with framing contractors (an essential aspect of typical home building) being particularly prone to injury (double that of construction workers overall—11 percent vs. 5 percent).
While you could always opt for a contractor that emphasizes recycling C&D waste and hope for the best, imagine if there were a way to construct the home of your dreams with virtually zero waste, zero stress, and far fewer injuries (including on your bank account). Enter: 3D printed homes.
In addition to fulfilling the needs of home buyers already on the market, this avenue would open up affordable, environmentally friendly, and sustainable homes to millions of individuals who would never have had the opportunity to own a home before, including the approximate 1.56 million individuals in the United States who are homeless.
Apis Cor is revolutionizing the housing industry by being the “first company to develop a mobile construction 3D printer which is capable of printing whole buildings completely on site.”
Late 2016 announced the completion of the first fully 3D printed home in Russia. The approximately 400 square foot home was erected in 24 hours and cost just $10,134 to build. The total included the home’s foundation, walls, floor, roof, wiring, windows and doors, and exterior and interior finishes. The machine itself can be transported in the back of a truck, uses just eight kilowatts of energy, is extremely efficient in terms of waste and energy, and can be set up in 30 minutes.
The team purposely chose challenging variables in order to test the efficiency and viability of the process. The single-story residential home was constructed during the coldest time of the year, and the curvaceous layout of the design was complex compared to typical square shape. The additive technology has no restrictions on the design of new buildings, which means the house can be any shape. And although the temperature initially set back the printer’s ability to use its “ink,” or concrete mixture, the problem was remedied by erecting a tent to insulate the site.
Things like windows, insulation, steel reinforcements, cabinets, paint, and appliances were installed or applied by workers, but nearly everything else was automated. The finished result was a safe, modern, and inviting home just like you’d expect from the traditional building process. And, in comparison to typical costs, the 3D printer’s ability to construct load-bearing walls and partitions saves around 70 percent when compared to the block construction method, not to mention the lack of physical labor needed.
Apis Cor isn’t the only innovative company attempting to extend affordable 3D printed homes to everyone. According to BBC, WinSun, a firm in China 3D printed ten full-sized, detached single-story homes in a single day. And perhaps the most ambitious is Contour Crafting. The company’s prototype reportedly built a 2,500 square foot home in only 20 hours. But that’s not all. There is already a proposed plan set forth by the company to extend the operation to other planets, stating the intention to “build safe, reliable, and affordable lunar and Martian structures, habitats, laboratories, and other facilities before the arrival of human beings.” Apis Cor’s inventor Nikita Chen-yun-tai is also interested in otherworldly construction, saying “we are ready to be the first to start building on Mars.”
The construction and real estate industries have hindered people and the environment for decades. However, with revolutionary technology like the introduction of 3D printed homes, the world as we know it could be impacted for the better. From our inner circles to outer space, we can’t wait for this automated process to change the way we live.
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