Customize your home design with 3D Printing

Industrial 3D Printers have long been using the additive manufacturing process for the fabrication of parts and complete models. The efficiency of these machines has continued to grow, raising the bar for competition amongst 3D Printing Companies. As such, the machines have gotten bigger, the designs have gotten more complex, and the uses for the 3D Printer have branched into sectors previously unexplored. So much has the diverse capabilities of the Commercial 3D Printer expanded, that a person can now build the shell and core of a house in only a matter of hours.

Printing a 3D House

Winsun, a Chinese company, has used 4 3D printers to build 10 houses in a day. It should be noted that these 3D Printers are quite large, spanning 10.00m by 6.70m. Also, it should be noted that while the construction time and thereby the cost for labor and materials has decreased, the original cost of such a large printer, much less four of these printers, is quite expensive. Yet, once the printers were built and tested for accuracy, the ROI proved to be worth it.

Apis Cor, who created the first residential 3D printed House, claims to have done so at a cost of about $10,000. The process takes about 24 hours to print a structurally sound building.

Compared to other architectural 3D Printers, the Apis Cor printer was able to fabricate a residential building, alongside using standardized construction methods (in terms of the structural bearings, horizontal Fiberglass Reinforced Polymer reinforcements, concrete footers, etc.). Most competitive printers of this scale have only been able to fabricate certain components in-house, such as a wall or the foundation, but have not been able to fabricate the whole shell and core of a house in 1 sitting.  The ability to go from a 3D CAD Design to a livable replica of the model had not been achieved until recently.

What does this mean for the Construction Industry?

While there have been advances in the manufacturing of components of houses, there is still a need for the human factor. Fox news reported that the buildings which can be constructed at this time are very templated. There are others which have questioned the durability and resilience of the material against natural environmental factors. True, using concrete fabrications as well as recycled materials and polymers may ease the tension associated with this issue, but a total elimination of the human factor at this point is not conceivable.

Drafters and architects should take note of the advancements in Commercial 3D Printers and Industrial 3D Printing and cater their houses and design files to allow for quicker fabrication of their designs. This is not to say that the designer should diminish the creativity of his/her work, but rather that the setup of the file should allow for the walls and various components to be 3D Printed and assembled. Think of it as a revolution to the modular home development process, as that is the most comparable. The 3D CAD Design is still created by the drafter and designer, but then the layers are printed by the machine. Electrical work, plumbing, HVAC, and other components are still needed and must still be installed by a human professional. However, the main bulk of the time, which is commonly taken up by the building process, can be expedited to the point of having a fully functional house in hours/days.

World Impact

The implications of what 3D Printing could do for the residential world are enormous. First, as the cost of construction is lowered, we could see a rise in the number of these cheaper houses sold. The price of land will also increase (as a result of the law of supply and demand) while the cost of building decreases. Secondly, this type of Commercial 3D Printing will grow in demand making for more jobs within the CAD and 3D Design Industry.

In terms of use, the ability to have a building, home, or emergency shelter constructed in 24 hours opens the door for emergency services to provide quality housing when natural disasters and emergencies occur. Instead of having a situation like Hurricane Katrina which left many without homes, the building of multi-level buildings could be achieved, minimize the cost for emergency relief, increasing the help and support needed for those families, and encouraging quicker re-emergence of the economy stricken by the disaster.

20150327_180801

Design of playhouse for Botanical Gardens. Design and image provided by Siclari Studios

It is not just houses and major builds where 3D Printing could add value in the construction industry. Even simple projects could find 3D Printing beneficial. This playhouse was designed in CAD and the lumber was cut using modular development methods. Such a simple design could have been completed in hours, not weeks using modern 3D Printing methods. This is a prime example of the types of smaller projects which could benefit from the quick turnaround time of 3D Printing.

Regardless of whether a 10.00m machine is being used or a smaller 3D Printer is implemented for interior design, one thing is clear, 3D Printing has made waves in the architectural and design industry and it is only going to get bigger.

Special Guest Blogger Douglas Siclari of Siclari Studios

Leave a Reply