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Ultimate Guide

How to buy a 3D printed house

Do you consider buying a 3D printed house? 

 

Well, you’re in luck because in this article I created the ultimate how to guide on how to buy a 3D printed house! I know, everyone is busy nowadays, but why don’t you just relax, and take your time to read through this article!

If all works well, you can enjoy benefits of the 3D printed house, such as:

– reduced costs

– great durability

– sustainable material

– design freedom

– reduced building time

Is the 3D printed house right for you?

 

The first thing you have to ask yourself is if a 3D printed house is really the right choice for you. 

You have to realize a couple of things, before you buy one and maybe you can save yourself the troubles of finding the perfect 3D printed house, because it’s just not for you. And god knows, it definitely isn’t for everyone. Yet. 

This is why I’ve tried to put together a checklist to see if you and the 3D printed house are the right fit. 

Are you: 

I don’t want to seem like I am trying to put this technology down, I am a huge fan and actually think it is going to change the housing industry forever. 

You’ll have to consider though, nothing in this world is certain and at the end of the day, everything you buy is an investment with a certain amount of risk involved. 

So don’t just jump right into buying a 3D printed house because you are one of the 1.5 million people who saw ICON’s video with New Story. 

 In other words: You shouldn’t just be here for the hype, you should be interested in the pros and the cons of the 3D printed house, the development and be sure that this is what you want to live in for the next couple of years.

If you are still convinced that a 3D printed house is the right way, then keep reading!

 

 

Getting the printer vs the house

 
Now, the reason why I am saying “getting” the printer and not “buying” the printer is because there might be some ways out there to rent out a 3D construction printer.
 I personally though have not yet heard of such ways, but you might be able to find a good deal to rent one if you know an open-minded owner.

Now: I know what you’re thinking. You are probably against the idea of getting a printer, you just want a house.

I mean, with traditional methods of construction, if I want to build a house, I am not going to buy an entire f*cking crane.

3D printing construction is different. Forget everything you know about construction and remember how cheap the material is and how little time and effort a 3D printed house can take.

With material this cheap plus the little effort required it might sometimes be more cost-efficient to buy a 3D construction printer, build your house and then maybe resell it.

That way you might save significant amounts of money, and money is something many people like.

Here is a quick overview of the pros and cons of getting the printer versus hiring a construction company to do the printing for you:

Getting the printerHiring construction company 
can be cheaperhard to find 
be prepared to handle most of the process yourselfdoes the work for you
risk is on youexpert advice
ideally simple processthey take care of non-printable elements 

Generally speaking, renting or buying a printer is a rather bold idea, which those among you with some expertise in the construction field and an inclination to take risks might want to try with their garden house to safe some money. To those I can say that there is a lot of content out there for example on James Lyman’s Youtube channel which can help you with the process, but you are at your own…

There is simply too much risk involved with your actual house… Maybe, you could make a pact with a construction company that you print the walls and then you hire them for carpenting, the roof, the floor… It is definitely a cheap way to produce walls, no question about this.

Bottom line?

I only recommend getting your own printer to the ones who actually don’t need my advice here cause they are already well-versed in the field.

 

 

Building code: the arch-enemy

While this is something you got to talk to you local building authorities about, since it heavily depends on your location, there are some international guidelines as well as things to consider, whether you live in north-korea or Fiji.

So, step 1:

Ask your local building authorities about what’s important.

Include questions such as:

Does the printer matter?

Which size of the 3D printed house can you approve?

What design freedom is possible in my neighbourhood?

How do you judge the safety of the 3D printed house?

 

 

Finding the right printing company

There are not many people on this planet, who actually own a 3D construction printer. As Vysautas Naslenas, an expert for customer relations told me, having the right printer and the right company is an integral part of getting your 3D printed house not only to be of high quality, but also approved by the building code. So, here I am going to give you a quick overview of some of the main 3D printer companies. Please note that the majority of these companies only supplies the technologies, you are still going to need a construction company which supports you along the way.
 
 
 

1. COBOD

COBOD is, in my opinion, the leading company when it comes to transparency as well as archievements in 3D printing houses. They were the fastest to print a 3D printed house and did a lot of firsts. Their customer service is great, and currently they are the first to 3D print a habitable house with three stories in the south of germany. Also, they don’t require you to use a specific material which you have to get shipped from them, but rather help you find the right material for your circumstances. The head of customer support even mentioned to me that they are currently researching ways to print at an angle, which would be an incredible advancement in this industry and just showcases the innovative advantage they have in this field. Of course, nobody is perfect so I also have found some problems with this company:

The very heavy gantry-style printer is hard to transport, which is not that much of a problem, since your construction company should handle the transport process for you. Another disadvantage has something to do with how new this industry is, and is not necessarily something which is their fault, but from what I have heard it is very hard to actually get a construction project done with them, since their leading position creates a large demand for the company which is rather in its beginnings.

As everyone who understands economics knows, this huge demand coupled with the comparable low supply makes them one of the more expensive companies. But, as Vytautas Naslenas from COBOD stated, “we want to enable construction companies to print good houses, which stand the test of time and building codes, even if you have to pay a little more for that”.
 COBOD International Delivers Massive 3D Printer to Kamp C for Two-Story Construction - 3DPrint.com | The Voice of 3D Printing / Additive Manufacturing

 + transparent and innovative company

+ a lot of success in the past

+ widely available materials

+ good quality

– rather expensive

– hard to hire

 

2. Winsun

Now, Winsun is a company which has undoubtetly done great things in the industry. They have sold more than 100 houses already, which places them at the top of this industry, and some of their houses have been amazing.
They have had appartements of an incredible size, while using a large amount of recycled materials. No doubt, Winsun has a great list of archievements and patented technologies.

Also, in most construction projects you might have some
The reason I personally am a little skeptic towards their success is the lack of transparency and the dubious things they have done. For example, if you read their content or watch videos on them, it is always implied that they print on site, like most construction 3D printing companies.

Actually though, they print parts for the house in their warehouse and then assemble them on site.

Which also makes their claim that they have built 10 houses in 10 days considerably less impressive, when you realize that it took them way longer to print, but only 10 days to assemble. Compared to companies like COBOD or MudBots, they are considerably more careful with what they show to the public.
 
 

+ plenty of successfull projects

+ a lot of patents

+ often recycled materials

– we know little about the process

– construction partner

 

3. MudBots

MudBots is a daughter company of the company “USBotics”, which gives them great financial freedom. According to CEO James Lyman, they have never been in debt thanks to their parent company’s financial support. In general, MudBots is an amazing company which manages to sell printers starting from below 50 000 Dollars, which puts them in a price class of their own.

Through US Botics they also have a very practical approach and make sure to think ahead, which gives them a competitive edge in regards to their light structures, easily accesible materials as well as helpful content out there. The CEO  James Lyman, who personally filmed a huge amount of video, showing you the tips and tricks to operating the concrete 3D printer.

Also they have useful tools accessible, such as a list of things you should watch out for while buying a concrete 3D printer, a tool to calculate the material costs and much more. Before I mention the speed and amazing warranty on the printers I have got to name a couple of cons, or else this company sounds too good to be true and you will think Im biased.

Some cons might include that even though they are able to build large walls, the company itself has rarely shown off their abilities by printing actual houses themselves. Also, them being able to use a pretty regular and widely available cement mix raises the question, why other 3D printing companies don’t do the same.

The Youtuber Jarrett Gross also mentioned that the walls look as if they were lower quality, but even though I respect the guy a lot and think he has done amazing things for learning about the 3D printed house, personally it didn’t seem like the walls looked bad at all to me, but check it out for yourself.

 

To me, they are definitely one of the companies to look out for. Especially when you think about investing, since CEO James Lyman was the only one who talked to me about the possibility of going public in the near future!

 

+ innovation

+ practical advice

+ great price

– rarely used material

– not a construction-based company

 

 

 

4. Apis Cor

 As soon as there is any Youtube video on 3D printed construction, you always see that one guy in the comments reminding you to credit the russians, because they “came up with it”. While this is definitely not true since the first patent on construction printing dates back wayyy before Apis Cor was invented, they do deserve some credit. 

They have a very ambitious team of scientists, which has done great work in the past. They have printed municipalities for Dubai, which seem to be top-notch quality as well as many other projects which have been covered widely in the area. If you walk up to the street to random peoiple and ask them for the most renown 3D housing company, most of them will probably ask 3D printed what now? 

The few that have heard of 3D printed construction already will probably name Apis Cor. This is one of the reasons I am kind of on the fence on this company. They managed to come across as extremely big and advanced with headlines such as this one. A little bit like Winsun though, their headlines sound incredible, they claimed to have built the municipalities in Dubai in a matter of days, while noone was allowed to confirm this. 

Also, they claimed to hold the Guiness World record for biggest 3D printed house in the world, but a journalist who investigated further on this could not get this confirmed by the Guiness Book of World Records, I am not saying they are wrong, I find it very likely that they actually have printed the biggest 3D printed building so far, I would just appreciate a little bit more transparency. The second reason why Im not sure about this company is a personal one, and might turn out to be wrong, but I do not like the concept of their printer. 

Basically, it is one arm in the middle of the building which is supposed to print it, it honestly seems way less efficient compared to systems such as gantry-style or even the Koala. Nevertheless, I might be proven wrong in the future, and I  curious to see what this company has to offer.

+ widely accepted as industry leader

+ innovative and experienced

+ reputable projects

– lack of transparency

– circle-based printer

– probably not available for small-scale private projects