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3D-printed houses: 5 structures that prove the mettle of this technology

3D-printed houses: 5 structures that prove the mettle of this technology

Imagine living in a house that is 3D printed. Sounds intriguing, right? 3D-printed houses are fascinating new frontiers in the world of construction and architecture. They are emerging as cost-effective and sustainable structures compared to traditionally constructed ones.

Building a 3D-printed house is like 3D-printing pretty much anything. A digital model and hundreds of lines of code are used to create a tangible, 3-dimensional physical object by layering materials on top of one another. It’s an innovative technology that has allowed architects and builders to create livable structures with incredible precision and efficiency. In this article, we’ll explore the fascinating world of 3D-printed houses and showcase some of the most impressive structures that have been printed to date. 

But before that, let’s quickly look at the benefits of taking the 3D-printing approach to construction!

3D-printed houses? Why not!

We can 3D-print structures on-site or take the prefab approach to build them in an off-site, controlled environment. It is a cheaper, sustainable construction alternative compared to conventionally built structures. 

The carbon footprint of 3D-printed houses is much smaller than that of conventionally built homes as they use fewer resources, generate less waste, and emit fewer greenhouse gases. The sustainability impact is enhanced even further by using solar panels for generating carbon-free electricity. Reinforcement steel, fiber-reinforced plastic (FRP), welded wire meshes, and other methods can be used to enhance the structural integrity of 3D-printed structures. This makes them durable and resilient to extreme weather conditions such as strong winds, hurricanes, and earthquakes. 

Furthermore, 3D-printed homes are highly customizable. From changing the layout to the size of rooms and the style of the exterior, clients can control several aspects of their homes and create something truly personal. 3D-printing technology can help us tackle the global housing crisis by providing a fast, affordable, and sustainable solution for building homes.

Now that we have highlighted some advantages of 3D-printed houses, let’s look at 5 structures that are perfect examples.

5 innovative 3D-printed houses

Kamp C, Belgium

Source- Kamp C on YouTube.

Located in Belgium, Kamp C is a two-story demo house with a living area of 90 square meters. It was built by the company of the same name using COBOD’s BOD2 concrete printer in a circular design. By implementing thermal bridges and eliminating cold bridges, engineers were able to significantly reduce heat loss from this structure. This not only improves energy efficiency but also provides greater comfort and lower utility costs for the residents.

Developers claim that Kamp C is also stronger than conventional brick structures. Marijke Aerts, a project manager at Kamp C says, “The material’s compressive strength is three times greater than that of conventional quick brick.”

Mense-Korte, Germany

Source- MENSE – KORTE, ingenieure+architekten on YouTube.

The Mense-Korte house is Germany’s first 3D-printed home designed by architect Waldemar Korte. This one was also built using a BOD2 printer and is a two-story family house with a 160-square-meter living area.

This house features two printed hollow walls. The outer one is filled with insulation and the inner one with unreinforced concrete. Sockets and light switches are integrated into the printed surface.  

Tecla, Italy

Source- WASP Team on YouTube.

Tecla, which derives its name from ‘Technology’ and ‘Clay’, is a circular 3D-printed home built entirely out of sustainable materials. Mario Cucinella Architects and 3D-printing firm WASP came together to build this project in Italy

This 49-square-meter structure is 4 meters tall and is built from 350 layers of clay taken from the nearby riverbed. Locally sourced materials mean reduced waste and better sustainable impact. Tecla features a complex, twisting shape that is designed to optimize airflow and maximize energy efficiency. The structure is optimized by keeping three parameters in mind – ventilation, thermal insulation, and thermal mass. 

The Genesis Collection, USA

Source- ICON – 3D Tech on YouTube.

The Genesis Collection is a series of 3D-printed homes at Wolf Ranch in Austin, Texas. The project is the result of a collaboration between Lennar Corp. and 3D-printing startup Icon. Icon’s 46.5-feet-wide Vulcan printer and proprietary concrete mixture ‘Lavacrete’ is used to form the exterior and interior walls of the structure. The Lavacrete layer takes about 15 minutes to dry and according to Lennar Corp. estimates construction takes 30% less time. 

The structure is rebar reinforced and provided with insulation, making these homes energy-efficient and sustainable. Other features include movable walls and adjustable facades. The building process is cleaner so waste is also reduced.

Gaia, Italy

Source- WASP Team on YouTube.

Another 3D-printed house developed by WASP, Gaia is located in Italy that is designed to be self-sufficient and energy-efficient. It is built entirely out of sustainable materials, including biodegradable materials and recycled waste. 25% of the soil used comes from the site itself, then there’s 25% rice husk, 40% from straw-chopped rice, and 10% from hydraulic lime.

The construction of the house was completed in just 10 days (100 hours). The outer wall of the house is empty for proper air circulation and the internal walls are coated with bio-plaster for insulation. Rice-husk roofs provide additional insulation. WASP states that the house is completely biodegradable and will turn back to soil if it’s not properly maintained!

What’s in store for 3D-printed houses in the future?

Right now, 3D printing in construction is in its early stages. With advancements in the field and the development of large-scale additive manufacturing, we might see bigger 3D-printed structures. There will be obstacles to overcome, though. 

3D-printing houses will be difficult for small-size firms. Furthermore, there aren’t many who are familiar with or proficient with the technology, and investments will have to be made to train workers. But as time goes on, we can surely expect to see more 3D-printed houses!

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