The advantages of a 3D-printed house

Why build or purchase a 3D-printed house? Here are several advantages:

Photo by Lucie Siegelsteinovu00e1 on Pexels.com

3D printing offers potential solutions to major challenges for the U.S. housing market: reducing the greenhouse gas emissions causing climate change and rising housing prices contributing to surging homelessness. Some experts expect the American industry to boom in the next two to three years…

But 3D-printed houses are already 5%-10% cheaper than a regular build in the United States, according to Zach Mannheimer, CEO of Alquist 3D, which aims to build affordable 3D-printed homes to serve lower-income communities, and experts predict costs will go down as the industry expands. A 2018 study in the academic research publication IOP Science: Materials Science and Engineerings, based in the U.K., argues that 3D printing can cut costs by at least 35%

If scaled up, 3D-printed buildings are significantly better for the environment than those that are built from scratch on-site. The building process cuts waste by 60%because it only manufactures the materials required. There’s no need to trim or subtract excess materials so they aren’t sending unused wood, concrete or glass for window panes to the landfill, according to academic research. And 3D printers work better with nontraditional cement alternatives such as “hempcrete” — a mixture of hemp, sand and other materials — than they do with regular concrete. That could encourage the concrete industry to pursue more sustainable alternatives to concrete, which creates significant greenhouse gas emissions in its production…

HUD seems optimistic about 3D-printed houses as a climate change solution. “3D printing is one of the promising advances in construction which the HUD team sees as having the potential to lower housing costs and increase energy efficiency and resilience,” a HUD spokesperson told Yahoo News in an email.

While there are still multiple barriers to overcome, the advantages listed above sound intriguing. If costs are consistently lower, building speed is quicker, and there are sizable environmental payoffs, this could interest many in the housing industry ranging from those looking to make money to people searching for cheaper housing.

All those advantages noted above lead me to wonder about barriers to entry in this field. Can conventional builders pivot or would they rather continue with their approaches? Are there companies more in the tech or manufacturing fields who would get into housing? Can we envision a point where individual property owners could use 3D-printing to do their own thing?

With one person in the article estimating only 10 such homes were built in the United States last year, even a small increase in numbers next year could lead to a sizable percentage increase.

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