3D Printed Houses – Innovation to Save Millions

In 2017, Yale Global and the MacMillan Center posted an article that showed the level of homelessness worldwide. They stated that approximately 2% of the earth’s population, or no fewer than 150 million people were homeless. In addition, a further 1.6 billion, or over 20% of the world’s people had inadequate housing. How, in this age of advanced technology could this be happening and can 3D Printed Houses be the innovation that saves millions of people?

The truth is building a house, or decent dwelling for anyone costs a lot of money. That can be one explanation for this sad fact. The good news is, technology has finally caught up and there is help available. This aid comes as a number of companies are building 3D Printed Houses. These structures can now cost as little as $4000 US to create.

How Are 3D Printed Houses Made

When 3D printing, also known as, Stereolithography (SLA), began in the 1980’s, no one could imagine what these machines would eventually be used for. At their inception, the goal of these printers was to create prototypes for certain industries. Now with much larger machines, with robotic arms attached, actual buildings can be created.

To create a 3D printed house, the same technology used for all 3D printing is engaged, just on a much larger scale.

  • Start with a design that is fed into the machine as a 3D file.
  • The 3D printer then creates the product using what materials have been put into the machine, usually concrete and other substances.
  • It works by adding layer upon layer of the material that is inside the machine to form the designed structure. Currently, this can take from 12 to 24 hours.

What Companies Are Making 3D Printed Houses and Structures

There are over 12 companies that build 3D-printed houses and other buildings. They are from all over the world and include:

  • Apis Cor from Russia. Their 3D printer can be set up in under 30 minutes
  • BatiPrint from France built the first social housing with 3D printers
  • XTreeE is another 3D printing company based in France. They started out as a university project and became an actual company.
  • Constructions-3D is also a company from France. They are working with a Belgian architect to construct custom-built 3D printed homes
  • WASP is based in Italy. They have created the largest 3D printer currently available.
  • WinSun, a Chinese firm. They have built the first five-story building with 3D printing technology
  • KamerMaker (Ultimaker & DUS Architects) is a Dutch company. They create 3D-printed homes using local recycled materials.
  • CyBe Construction is from the Netherlands. They have created two different types of 3D printers for housing projects.

The rest of the companies are all based out of the USA

  • Cazza Construction is based out of Silicon Valley, part of San Francisco, California. They have been selected to build the world’s first 3D printer skyscraper in Dubai.
  • Contour Crafting a 3D printing tech company based out of Southern California University. They are working on the technology to build homes very quickly, when a natural disaster strikes. Dr. Behrokh Koshnevis is the owner of this company.
  • D-Shape Enterprises is based out of New York. The present version of the D-shape 3D printer is 6 meters by 6 meters and has 300 nozzles.
  • New Story. This group is a US-based not-for-profit company whose vision states that; no human being should have to live in survival mode and work to build homes for the impoverished.

New Story and Icon – A world changing partnership

New Story teamed up with Icon, a construction technologies company based in Austin Texas and they put up one 3D printed house in the city. They worked together to create a 3D printer they named “the Vulcan” for this purpose. Now New Story, who has helped to build houses in Haiti, Bolivia and Mexico, is currently working on an entire 3D printed community in El Salvador.

Previously, they built homes using standard technology and concrete bricks. It would take about 15 days to build one home and it cost over $6,500. Now with the 3D printing technology they worked on with Icon that cost will drop to $4000.

New Story has the goal of bringing this technology to the parts of the world and the people who need it the most. That is not the goal of all the 3D printing structure building companies.

Does Canada Have a Stake in 3D House Printing?

A not-for-profit group in Montreal, Quebec is looking to construct 3D printed homes for everyone. They are called, Print Our Home and their goal is to build healthy and viable homes that will use local and standard materials that are eco-friendly.

Are 3D Printed Houses Possible in Canada?

The answer is a resounding yes! As the concept will come from a designer, the formidable Canadian weather can be taken into consideration when created. The owner of Contour Crafting explained in an article by WhichMortgage.ca.

Dr. Behrokh Koshnevis, the owner of the 3D printing firm Contour Crafting, explains the process and its potential progress: He pointed out that as the design is sent directly to the printer, the substances that are cementitious (meaning having the properties of the cement), will come out the nozzle and build up the structure layer by layer. As this process is going on, a number of things can be done automatically, including reinforcing the structure, as well as having the plumbing and electrical network installation started. After the initial structure is in place, other automated work can be done including, tiling, finishing up other construction work and painting.

With the ongoing technological advances in 3D printed buildings, they should be able to add an automated process to put in a heating system, which would be an absolute necessity in Canada.  In fact, in December 2016 the first 3D printed house in Russia was built. It is in Stupino town, in the Moscow region. It included high-tech insulation in the walls, floors and ceiling, thermal double-glazed windows with climate control and special doors.  If they can build a 3D-printed house in Russia during January and February, they can definitely build a viable home here in Canada.

The 3D printed house can be the beginning of housing the entire world. It can be constructed anywhere, once the 3D printer is mobile and can get to the community. They can work in hot and cold climates and areas where earthquakes are common. These homes will be a much needed residence for anyone who is homeless, or lives in inadequate housing, as well as anyone hit by a natural disaster.

They are also a possibility of solving the housing crisis in many urban settings where more and more people move into the city to find work, but have no place to call home.  Newcomers to a city or new immigrants seek a place to live safely and at an affordable price.

This 30-year-old innovation or 3D printing can create fascinating architectural designs to please the wealthy that are looking for the newest technological advances. It can also change the lives of millions of impoverished people who need a home now and in the future.

Sabine Ghali
Sabine Ghali
Helping real estate investors build wealth over time

Sabine Ghali, Managing Director at Buttonwood Property Management, Award Winning Real Estate Broker and an Entrepreneur at heart. Sabine is on a mission to help investors create real estate wealth over time in the Greater Toronto Area. Sabine is published in a number of media outlets, including Toronto Star, The Globe and Mail, Toronto Sun, Entrepreneur, Forbes, and Gulf News, among many others.