Printing your very own 3D house in Australia could soon become a reality if recent breakthroughs in China and Europe are anything to go by.
Printing a house layer by layer, rather than using traditional construction methods, means 3D homes can be built faster, are more affordable and more environmentally friendly.
In China, where cheap housing is in big demand, the 3D printing of buildings is well underway. At the beginning of 2014 a company called WinSun had ten 3D office buildings printed in 24 hours for just over AUD$7,000 each. The basic one-storey stand alone buildings had 3D printed walls made up of layers of construction waste mixed with quick-drying cement. The roofs were unable to be printed in the same way due to technology not being advanced enough at the time.
The company went on to further showcase the technology and 3D print a five-storey apartment building and a villa. President of Yingchuang New Materials, Ma Yihe, the inventor of the 3D printing method used, believes 3D printing will change the way people think about housing and construction in the future, but that his technology still needs to be improved. A 3D printed office building in Dubai is his next planned project.
Also in China, a liveable 3D printed house was built last year by developer Zhuoda Group. It consisted of six separate modules, including a dining room, kitchen, bathroom and bedrooms, and were assembled together on the site by a crane and workers. From production to installation, the house took just ten days to complete. The developer’s engineers claim it is strong enough to withstand earthquakes as each module bears only its own weight.
Amsterdam also has a 3D printed building called the Canal House. This has 13 rooms that were each printed separately with a machine called the KamerMaker, or ‘RoomBuilder’, and assembled to form the house. Each room is constructed by a different technique and consists of various 3D printed parts that click together like Lego and are difficult to pull apart, making it extremely robust.
While all the aforementioned buildings were 3D printed, they were assembled in parts, not printed as an entire building. This is something that is also on the cards thanks to a giant 3D printer created by Italian engineering company, WASP. The printer is 40 feet tall, 20 feet wide and able to construct houses out of materials such as clay or dirt.
Professor Behrokh Khoshnevis from the University of Southern California is taking this concept one step further with an enormous 3D printer that can print complete houses, including the structure, electrical system and plumbing. While 3D printed houses may not be everyone’s cup of tea, the technology is moving forward so rapidly that 3D printed houses may be popping up in your neighbourhood sooner than you think.