When you hear the term “3D printer,” what do you picture in your mind? You probably imagine a futuristic device that can be used to print fun little objects. Yet this technology is no longer a novelty. From advanced prosthetics to high-tech engineering projects, 3D printing has a wide array of practical applications. In fact, NASA has been using zero-gravity 3D printers aaboardthe International Space Station for four years.
Of course, 3D printing has plenty of down to earth uses, too. Case in point: More and more construction companies are utilizing 3D printing in residential construction projects. As 3D printing technology develops, it’s becoming a more viable method for larger projects, including construction. That’s because 3D printing can help reduce building costs. And that’s good news for the countless millennials who can’t afford homes due to student loan debt.
Creative Concrete: 3D Printed Houses
Construction companies that use 3D printers for their projects today mainly print concrete materials. These construction projects involve layering concrete in specific patterns to eventually create a stable, sturdy structure. Builders can construct these homes extremely quickly and at an incredibly low cost. This technique is similar to modular home construction, in which parts of a home are pre-fabricated in a factory setting. These two building methods have something else in common: they’re both eco-friendly.
Because of this unique construction method, 3D printed homes are completed with nearly zero waste, making them incredibly environmentally-friendly. Additionally, the final product is made of solid concrete. That means these homes can withstand incredibly trying conditions that other construction methods might not.
These surprising homes cost as little as $4,000 to make. Experienced builders can construct a 3D printed home in only 24 hours from start to finish. A typical 3D printed home is fairly small, at only six-hundred square feet on a single story. Still, a small family can live comfortably in these homes. This makes them an excellent choice for emergency housing or in crisis areas. When 1.2 billion people live without secure housing, these cheap, fast homes can potentially provide shelter to millions in the years ahead.
Currently, innovative startups are building most of these 3D printed homes. Many of these companies are using this technology to create affordable homes for the homeless, refugees, and veterans. However, as more construction companies use 3D printing to make homes, it likely won’t be long before we see larger companies adopting this construction method for mainstream residential projects. Especially with the tiny-house movement in full swing, it’s likely companies will attempt to take this construction method and adjust it for a more suburban market.
Can this new method of construction reduce the cost of homes on the housing market at large? Will these concrete creations take off, or are they just a brief trend in construction methods? It’s difficult to say for sure, but with current housing trends opting for the “less is more” mindset, it’s likely that these smaller, simpler, and cheaper homes will appeal to many budget-conscious buyers.