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15 Pros and Cons 3D printed house

3D printed house
3D printed house, property of Apis Cor

I still remember the first time, hearing about 3D printers. I was a child and in the magazine I was reading, they were outlining the possibilities of a 3D printer. They were talking about a 3D printed house, 3D printed heart and other amazing applications for the 3D printer. Well, it is 2020 now and those stories are no longer dreams. But nevertheless, when talking about the 3D printed house most people want to know why a 3D printed house might be the right choice for them. As a result, I am going to outline my research on the 3D printed house pros and cons. Please note that 3D printed house pros and cons is a generalization since every 3D printed construction project is different.

As Monty Python put it, “always look on the bright side of life”. This is why we are going to start our 3D printed house pros and cons with the advantages:

Advantages of the 3D printed house Pros

1.       Safety for workers

3D printed house Happy builder

One in five work related deaths is due to construction. People fall off the buildings, get hurt while handling heavy machinery or many other horrible ways. Obviously, construction is not a very safe working field. That’s why having a 3D printer doing a lot of the work for you, might be a good thing not only for the limbs of the workers’, but also for the construction companies who spend millions per year on work-related injuries. As for you, you have the certainty of knowing that your new house didn’t kill more innocent people than James Bond in a chase-scene.

2. Speed

In my country there are traditions tied to every major event of the construction process. For example, if you start slating the roof, the homeowner comes by and brings everyone beer and food. As wholesome as this tradition sounds, it showcases how long it takes to build a house via traditional construction methods. ICON on the other hand, a 3D printed construction company, managed to build 500 square foot houses within less than 24 hours. Other construction 3D printers presented are even faster. Also, they don’t need breaks, vacation or weekends, 3D printers simply work all day all night. You can still celebrate slating the roof, but it is probably going to take longer than the construction process itself. 

3. Less waste

3D printed house pro materials

If you have ever been to a landfill before, you know the sheer amounts of waste construction produces. Every year, over one billion tons are produced in construction waste and experts estimate this number to at least double. Most 3D printed construction companies claim that there is no waste since the concrete used to print the house can be recycled for the next housing project at any time. Also, the robot arm knows exactly where to put the concrete, it it has been programmed properly, and as a result doesn’t produce any more significant waste from miscalculations. This is a major plus on the list of 3D printed houses pros and cons, since it paves them a way into the green future which we are all looking forward to.

4. Price

3D printed house pro money

When we talk about the 3D printed house pros and cons, money is one of the biggest advantages. Since, as mentioned above, a 3D printed house takes less time, material and workers to build, it is also significantly cheaper. The Boston Startup “Apis Cor” stated that a 3D printed house is 40 percent cheaper to build than regular housing, other companies have talked about even cheaper prices. Small 3D printed houses could even go below 10 000 Dollars in construction cost. More and more companies are presenting new plans how to make 3D printed housing more affordable and better, if you want to stay up to date on the newest developments, sign up for my newsletter. Learn more about the price in this article!

5. Design

ICON 3D printed house, Image property of iconbuild.com

Brick on brick on brick – over the last couple hundred years construction hasn’t changed much. As a result, house design has become recognizable and a bit monotonous. So, a huge 3D printed house pro is the new ways you can implement your ideas and imagination into your home. There are completely new ways to reinvent housing forever. New shapes, new forms, new entrances, new roof… a 3D printed house gives you an entirely new outlook on what a house is supposed to look like. This is a possibility for you to stick out from the dull duplexes all around your suburban area and astonish your neighbors at the next barbeque. 

6. Durability

3D printed house pro durability

Many people think, when they hear about the idea of a 3D printed house, this would not hold for long. A 3D printer is something we associate with small prototypes or maybe parts used for engineering, not a house that is supposed to last a lifetime. Those concerns can be easily dispelled. The concrete used in 3D printed construction is extremely durable and a 3D printed house is said to last at least 50 to 60 years according to current technology. Others are even convinced that their 3D printed housing can stay in perfect condition for 100 years, that is older than Queen Elizabeth the second herself!

7. Sustainable material

When we talk about 3D printed house pros and cons, we are mainly trying to see if 3D printed housing might be a feasible alternative in the future. A big point here is the material used and here 3D printed housing opens a lot of possibilities. The eco-friendly company “Gaia” has found a great way to utilize our earth’s resources and has build a 3D printed house with materials such as mud, raw soil and wood. Not only is this a sustainable way to build a house, but the entire cost of the material were only 900 Dollars. So maybe this is a new sustainable way of construction…. As Malcolm in the middle put it: “The future is now, old man”.

8. Safety

3D printed house pro safety

The concrete used in 3D printed construction is in just a few days as hard as the one used in traditional construction and after that it keeps getting harder and harder. The Chinese company HuaShang Tengda 3D printed a house which is supposed to withstand earthquakes measured at an 8.0 on the richter scale. Earthquakes of this strength only occur around once per year in the world. The 3D printed house is built in a way that it doesn’t require stress points which are very prone to breaking. By distributing the force equally, it does not rely on supporting these stress points that much and as a result it can withstand earthquakes of the aforementioned strength. If you are really interested in the safety of a 3D printed house, check out this post!

9. Recycling

Now, this is a factor which I definitely want to talk about in the 3D printed house pros and cons, which in my opinion doesn’t get nearly enough attention. When you someday grow sick of your 3D printed house, you can literally recycle the material and reuse the concrete. Like this we can create a circle and you can rebuild your house at any time. The material can build a new house on your current estate or be used somewhere else to build a dream home for a different family.

10. Helping the homeless

This is not so much a new point, but rather a perspective on how to use the already mentioned advantages. Since 3D printing a house is cheap and quick, it is a great way to provide housing for people who are in dire need of such. The 3D printed construction company “IONOS” partnered with a non-profit housing organization and showed the world how it’s done: They built houses for poor people from southern america and this concept turned out to be very effective at housing as many people as possible with less work and financial effort.

3D printed housing seems to be a great opportunity with many possibilities and applications. Still, here we want to discuss the 3D printed house pros and cons, which is why I dug deeper and tried to find a couple problems with the concept. Please note that none of those issues can not be fixed, maybe they have been already. In a couple years there might be nothing holding anyone back from 3D printing their own house.

Problems with the 3D printed house Cons

1. Need for trained workers

3D printed house cons workers

3D printing a house is obviously a fairly new concept, so if you try it, you might want to put some effort into finding the right workers. It takes specialized training to operate and supervise a 3D printer as well as design the house in a way the 3D printer will understand what you want him to do. I suppose if the technique remains successful more and more workers will be trained, Apis Cor already offers a workshop to learn how to use a construction 3D printer, but it will be a long road until this technology is widely available operable. 

2. Loss of jobs

3D printed house cons jobs lost

While this is an advantage for the homeowner, since it makes the construction process cheaper, the workers are going to have to adapt to the new technology. Even if they do, 3D printed constructions simply require much less workers, so definitely a few jobs will be lost in traditional construction. Nevertheless, there are people needed to build the printers, to operate them, maintain them and many other duties, but the general direction in this field will be going towards less need for humans. But don’t all fields start to get more and more automized?

3. Regulations

3D printed house cons regulations

This is another important point if we are to talk about the 3D printed house pros and cons. The regulations haven’t caught up to the current level of technology yet, so it is quite time and nerve consuming to deal with all the paperwork. Also, if you are trying to build a house of two stories or higher, depending on your location, this might not be an easy task, if not impossible to get a permit. In many areas there are no building codes, so your construction company can screw you over and build unsafe houses in some way or another.

4. Material

3D printed house cons concrete

So far, most 3D printed construction projects have been using either regular concrete, or a special one used mainly for 3D printing. While concrete is not a bad choice to build a house with, due to its many positive attributes, it leaves little diversity in this field. Recently there have been changes though, some examples being the aforementioned house built out of mud or a bridge in Amsterdam, 3D printed using steel. In a while, there will hopefully be more and more materials for the 3D printers to work with. Read this article, to learn everything about the materials in 3D printing.

5. Mainly walls

Up until now, 3D printers can build mainly walls. Roof, windows, floor and all the other elements of a house still have to be built in the traditional way. Also, elements like wood, all sorts of cables and sewage systems have to be built from hand and can only be started as soon as the construction process is done and the concrete is dry to a certain extent. If you calculate all those costs, 3D printing might not be as cheap as some people claim after all. Still, some reductions in cost and speed have been noted, even while considering this extra amount of work.

Conclusion on the pros and cons of the 3D printed house

It is very difficult to generalize on the 3D printed house pros and cons, but I think there Is one clear conclusion to draw from all this. Construction 3D printing has some amazing possibilities and incredible ways in which it can benefit homeowners and humans all over the planet, but it is too early to tell, to what extent this will be. There is so much progress in the field, that we can hope for the best, but we can not be certain of anything for now. If you would like to stay informed about the newest progress 3D printers are making, you can subscribe to my Email list and always be the first to know about any developments in the industry. Who knows, maybe some day you will be able to call a 3D printed house your own?