Housing shortages are a global problem, prompting more and more companies, architects and urban planners to rethink conventional approaches to construction. To provide affordable housing for more people, 3D printed homes could be a sustainable solution. The technology is making great strides in recent years and offers many advantages over traditional methods – not only in terms of construction time and cost.
Germany’s first 3D printed house is a role model
In Germany, the first smart 3D printed house now in Beckum, Westphalia, gives a glimpse of the construction industry of the future.
Almost everything that is permanently installed in the innovative new building comes from the 3D printer. The pilot project by the Mense-Korte architectural firm illustrates just how much design freedom the new building technology offers: Curves, curved surfaces and curved interior walls are easily possible with 3D printed architecture, without making it more expensive. The length of the house, the number of floors and the layout of the rooms are also flexible. In 160 square meters of living space, the two-story prototype accommodates three bathrooms, an open living room with dining area and fireplace, and three bedrooms.
Currently, the implementation of such a project takes about eight months. In perspective, the construction time of a 3D printed house could be reduced to just five months through further development of the technology. Costs should also decrease over the next five years. The price for the Beckum home is around 450.000 euros, which in this case is partly due to the upscale features including a smart home system integrated by master electrician Michael Freudenreich and his company homeTEC solution. To meet the requirement to build completely sustainably, the designers chose only recyclable building materials.
In combination with smart home and resource-saving heating technology, an energy-efficient K-55 house has been created in which the Gira G1 operating device enables central smart home control. In the individual rooms, future residents can operate the technology via the Gira touch sensor 4 or switches from the Gira E3 design line. In the outdoor area, Gira outdoor socket outlets in matte black also provide power. From the end of July, the smart 3D printed house in Beckum is scheduled to open its doors to interested visitors, and the result is something to be proud of: Mense-Korte have now received the German Design Award 2022 for their innovative project.
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Innovative in form: Exceptional architecture from the 3D printer
Europe’s first 3D-printed home has been standing for some time in the Netherlands. It was created in a collaboration between Eindhoven University of Technology and several construction companies. It is the first of a total of five planned 3D printed houses of the Milestone project. Here, too, the architectural diversity of the printing process becomes clear:
The 94-square-meter house resembles an oversized erratic boulder that blends authentically into its natural surroundings. All walls, including the ducts, are printed from liquid concrete and were assembled from 24 parts on site. The remaining planned Milestone houses are to come completely from the 3D printer step by step – including the ceilings and roofs. The house has already been inhabited on a test basis since spring 2021.
Build fast and build cheap in the first 3D-printed housing development
Texas construction company ICON has already found a way to print masonry from cement directly on site. A huge machine moves along a scalable rail system that enables 3D printing over a larger area. After several printed houses in the U.S. and Mexico that have been for sale since the beginning of the year, the company most recently unveiled House Zero.
The more than 2.000-square-meter home in East Austin is designed to combine modern ranch architecture with upscale design. However, ICON is not only focusing on the further development of what is technically feasible, but is also exploring the potential of the printing process for the social housing market. With support from nonprofit New Story, the company is working on 3D-printed housing developments that will provide affordable housing for low-income families and shelter for the homeless.
Climate-friendly building solution: 3D printed house made of earth and straw
The economic advantages of 3D printed houses result not only from the short construction time and simple planning, but also from the more resource-efficient use of materials. 3D printed architecture is particularly sustainable and environmentally friendly when it replaces conventional building materials such as concrete, steel and glass with more ecological materials. This is exactly what an Italian company specializes in. In early October 2018, the company WASP presented its first 3D-printed model house made from purely natural raw materials. The eco house uses a mixture of raw soil, lime, and straw and plant fibers for its load-bearing structure.
This biodegradable, CO2-neutral material mix serves as the raw material for a printable masonry structure that is designed to meet the highest criteria in terms of both energy efficiency and residential health. Earlier this year, the company unveiled TECLA, its latest 3D-printed house made entirely from compostable raw materials, and began construction near Bologna, Italy. With a special crane and 7.000 machine codes, the support structure was printed on site from 60 cubic meters of natural material.
TERA: Space technology for sustainable building of the future
New York-based start-up AI Spacefactory has already won over NASA with the design and material of its 3D-printed house TERA.
For the outer shell, they have developed a recyclable bio-plastic that can be extracted from natural raw materials in the environment – not only on Earth, but also on Mars, for example. The design for the futuristic 3D printed house on the Hudson River was created as part of a competition in which NASA was looking for solutions to build habitable living spaces in space.
Despite rapid advances, it will be several years before 3D printing technology can replace conventional methods in the construction industry. In theory, interior and exterior walls might not be the only things coming out of 3D printers in the future.
Components such as drain pipes, bathtubs or washbasins can also be printed. It would further reduce the cost of building a home – and make the dream of owning a home a reality for more people.
How do you like the innovative homes? Write to us whether a house from the 3D printer would be an option for you.
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