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How 3D Printed Houses are Saving the World

Updated: Nov 16, 2023

The PERI Group, a German formwork and scaffolding company, is at the forefront of 3D printing technology in the construction industry. They made history in October 2020 by constructing Germany's first 3D-printed residential building in Beckum, North Rhine-Westphalia. Since then, they have continued to push the boundaries of 3D printing technology, with ongoing projects to construct commercial and residential buildings. In this article, we will delve into the details of PERI Group's 3D-printed house in Germany, exploring its design, construction process, and potential impact on the future of building construction.

The Future of Homebuilding: 3D Printed Houses Take Over

The 3D-printed house constructed by PERI Group is a two-story detached house with approximately 80 square meters of living space per floor [1]. The house features a modern design, with clean lines and an open floor plan. The building's exterior has a smooth finish, giving it a sleek and futuristic appearance. The house's interior design includes a spacious living room, kitchen, two bedrooms, and a bathroom. The design prioritizes energy efficiency and sustainability, with features like solar panels on the roof for electricity generation.

3D Printing House Construction Process

The PERI Group used 3D printing technology to construct the house, a process that involved layering concrete in a predetermined pattern to create the walls and other structural elements. They used a 3D printer from Danish construction company COBOD to carry out the printing process. The printer used a special type of concrete that is specifically designed for 3D printing and contains fibers to improve its strength and durability. The printer extrudes the concrete through a nozzle, following a pre-programmed path to create the desired structure.

The printing process was highly efficient, with the PERI Group reporting that it took only 17 days to complete the construction of the 3D-printed house. This speed of construction is significantly faster than traditional construction methods, which can take several months or even years to complete. The PERI Group also reported that the 3D-printed house required significantly less material than a conventionally built house, making it more environmentally friendly and cost-effective.

Potential Impact

The construction industry has traditionally been slow to adopt new technologies, but the PERI Group's 3D-printed house demonstrates the potential of 3D printing technology in the construction industry. 3D printing technology has several advantages over traditional construction methods, including faster construction times, lower material costs, and increased design flexibility. The PERI Group's 3D-printed house also shows that 3D printing technology can be used to create aesthetically pleasing and functional buildings.

The PERI Group has continued to push the boundaries of 3D printing technology in the construction industry, with ongoing projects to construct commercial and residential buildings. In March 2023, they announced that they were constructing Germany's first "market-ready" additive manufactured residential building in Wallenhorst. The two-story house has a living space of approximately 160 square meters and is equipped with a photovoltaic system for energy generation [2]. They are also working on a project to construct a three-floor printed commercial apartment building on-site [2].

How Much Will 3D Printed Houses Cost?

The construction industry is being revolutionized by 3D printing technology, which has the potential to reduce costs, increase efficiency, and improve sustainability. One of the pioneers in this field is the German construction company PERI Group, which built Germany's first 3D-printed residential building in 2020.

3D-printed houses are constructed by using large-scale 3D printers to create the building's components layer by layer. The printer uses a mixture of materials, such as concrete or plastic, to create the parts of the house. This process is highly automated and can significantly reduce construction time and costs compared to traditional methods. Additionally, the precision of the 3D printing process ensures that each component is identical, improving the quality and durability of the building.

Cost of 3D-Printed Houses

One of the main advantages of 3D-printed houses is their lower cost compared to conventionally built homes. According to a report by the World Economic Forum, 3D-printed homes can cost up to 40% less than traditional houses [2]. This cost reduction is due to several factors, including the reduced need for labor and the use of cheaper materials. Additionally, 3D-printed houses can be built much faster than traditional houses, which can further reduce costs.

The 3D-printed house built by PERI Group in 2020 is a two-story detached house with approximately 80 square meters of living space per floor [1]. The building was constructed using a 3D printer that could produce up to 20 square meters of wall space per hour. The total cost of the project was not disclosed, but it is expected to have been significantly lower than that of a conventionally built house due to the reduced labor and material costs.

Comparison with Conventionally Built Homes

While 3D-printed houses have the potential to be much cheaper than conventionally built homes, there are also some drawbacks to this technology. One of the main challenges is the limited size of the 3D printer, which means that large components such as roof trusses and floor joists must be constructed using traditional methods. Additionally, the materials used in 3D printing may not be as durable as those used in conventional construction, which could affect the longevity of the building.

Another factor to consider is the current lack of regulations and standards for 3D-printed buildings. This can make it difficult for builders to obtain permits and insurance for these types of projects, which could increase the overall cost of the building.

Future of 3D-Printed Houses

Despite the current challenges, the future of 3D-printed houses looks promising. A project currently underway in Austin, Texas aims to construct a neighborhood of 100 3D-printed houses [3]. The project is a collaboration between construction companies ICON and Lennar and architecture studio BIG. Once completed, it will be the world's largest community of 3D-printed homes. The project aims to demonstrate the feasibility of 3D printing technology on a larger scale.

Disadvantages of 3D Printed Houses

Despite the many advantages of 3D printed houses, there are also some disadvantages to consider. One of the main concerns is the quality and durability of the construction. Since 3D printing technology is still relatively new, there are questions about the long-term structural integrity of 3D printed houses. Some experts argue that traditional building methods are still superior in terms of strength and durability.

Another concern is the potential impact on the job market. As 3D printing technology continues to improve and become more widely adopted, there may be a decrease in the demand for traditional construction workers. This could lead to job losses and other economic impacts.

Finally, there are also concerns about the environmental impact of 3D printed houses. While the use of recycled materials is a positive step, the energy required to power 3D printing technology is significant. There are also concerns about the disposal of the materials used in 3D printing, particularly if they are not biodegradable.

Recent Developments and Innovations in 3D Printed Houses

Despite the concerns and challenges, 3D printed houses are already becoming a reality in many parts of the world. In Germany, the first fully 3D-printed house was unveiled in the town of Beckum in 2021 [1]. The two-story residence offers 160 square meters of living space and was built using a special concrete mix that was extruded layer by layer.

In other parts of the world, 3D printed houses are being used to address specific housing needs. In Mexico, for example, a non-profit organization called New Story is using 3D printing technology to build affordable homes for families in need.

3D printed houses have the potential to revolutionize the housing industry, particularly for those who are in need of affordable and safe housing. New Story, a non-profit organization, has been using 3D printing technology to build houses in Mexico, aiming to provide sustainable and dignified housing for families in need.

New Story, in partnership with ICON, a construction technology company, has been using 3D printing technology to build houses in Tabasco, Mexico. The region has been hit by natural disasters, leaving many families without homes. The 3D printed houses have been designed to withstand natural disasters such as earthquakes, floods, and hurricanes, making them a safe and sustainable housing solution for the local community [3].

The process of 3D printing houses involves using a 3D printer to create the walls of the house. The printer, which is controlled by a computer, deposits layers of a special type of concrete known as Lavacrete. The printer follows a predetermined pattern, and as each layer is deposited, the walls of the house begin to take shape [3].

One of the benefits of 3D printed houses is that they can be built quickly and at a lower cost than traditional construction methods. The construction of a 3D printed house can be completed in as little as 24 hours, which is significantly faster than traditional construction methods. Additionally, because the 3D printing process is highly automated, it requires less labor, which can significantly reduce the cost of construction [3].

The use of 3D printing technology in housing construction also has environmental benefits. Because the Lavacrete used in the construction process is a form of cement, it has a much lower carbon footprint than traditional building materials such as wood or steel. Additionally, the 3D printing process generates less waste than traditional construction methods, which can help to reduce the environmental impact of construction projects [3].

One of the key advantages of the 3D printed houses built by New Story is that they are affordable. The cost of a 3D printed house is significantly lower than the cost of a traditionally built house, making it a more accessible option for families in need of housing. New Story has set a goal of reducing the cost of a 3D printed house to $4,000, which is less than half the cost of the current average cost of a house in Mexico.

In addition to being affordable, the 3D printed houses built by New Story are also designed to be customizable. Because the walls of the house are printed using a computer-controlled printer, it is possible to create unique and complex shapes that would be difficult or impossible to achieve using traditional construction methods. This means that families can have a say in the design of their home, creating a space that meets their specific needs and preferences.

I conclusion, 3D printed buildings have the potential to transform the construction sector by delivering faster, cheaper, and more sustainable dwelling solutions. Despite the fact that the technology is still relatively new, it has already been utilized to build magnificent structures all around the world. These projects highlight the possibilities of 3D printing in building, from the first entirely 3D printed house in Germany to the world's biggest community of 3D-printed dwellings in Texas. Furthermore, groups such as New Story are employing 3D printed houses to address the housing problem and give individuals in need with inexpensive and safe accommodation. It will be interesting to observe how 3D printed houses continue to impact the real estate business as technology progresses and gets more generally accepted.

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