4 June 2021
3D Printed Homes: Built Fast, Built to Last
3 Projects That Prove We Have Entered a New World
Need a home in a hurry? Family expanding? In-laws moving in? You need a house with a home office and you need it now? Depending on the size of the home you need, you can have a custom home built to order in approximately 30 days. Forget about trying to get it all done on short notice as you struggle to find reliable labor, framers and the tradesmen that buzz around traditional building sites like busy bees. Forget about waiting months (or years, in some cases) for the walls to go up and the roof to go on. There’s a new player in town and you can get your house printed in no time at all. No, that’s not a typo. We said printed.
So, hire your nearest 3D concrete printing company and set the stopwatch as they pour a concrete slab and then get started on your walls. The average time to 3D-print the walls for a home of approximately 2,000 square feet is roughly 48 hours.
Approximately 30 days later, the plumbing, wiring, windows, doors and roof should all be done and bam, you’ve got a new home. That’s fast by anyone’s standards. For areas with extreme climates (such as places susceptible to hurricanes, high winds or flooding), the options for reinforcement can be included in the printing, so that you’re solid and safe from the get-go. And none of it would be possible without three key factors: CAD/BIM professionals, 3D-printers and good old-fashioned concrete.
Breathing Life into a Dream
The most critical of these three factors is the CAD/BIM professionals — the architects, engineers and designers — without whose creative insight and ingenuity none of these projects would see the light of day.
. . . who amongst us can brag that we have a printer measuring 50 feet wide, 42 feet long and 33 feet high?
Without the innovative designs of the CAD/BIM professionals, even the most expensive 3D-printer in the world is nothing but a brooding, silent hunk of equipment, parked next to a mountain of worthless concrete. But send the design to the printer, get that concrete mixed, and hey presto! You’ve got a whole new building!
Whether you’re a Revit®, AutoCAD® or MicroStation® user, we applaud you for your creative vision, which has produced, amongst other things, the three groundbreaking projects we’ll take a look at below.
Paving the Way and Shaking Up the Construction Industry
Did you know that the construction industry is the world’s largest industry? Now, three separate projects in Florida, New York and Mexico are set to shake up the industry in a whole new way.
In a previous article, New Release for Revit, we touched on the fact that wood and metal have been two of the top three building materials throughout history. Let’s take a brief look at the third material in that category: concrete.
Concrete, surprisingly, has been used as a building material for thousands of years. There is evidence of its use at the ancient Mayan city of Uxmal, dating around 700 AD. The Greeks were using it as early as 1400 – 1200 BC and the ancient Egyptians had mastered the material back in 3100 BC. In fact, those toe-curlingly clever Egyptians actually figured out that adding volcanic ash to the mix allowed it to set underwater.
The advent of 3D-printing has been a game changer in a number of industries, but its impact on the construction industry may have enormous societal ramifications given that the US (and most of the planet) is currently in the midst of a housing crisis.
“We are simply facing a housing shortage, a major housing shortage,” says Lawrence Yun, chief economist at the National Association of Realtors, which tracks home sales in the United States. “We need to build more homes. Supply is critical in the current environment.”
This phenomenon is not limited to the US. It’s essentially global. A potential solution for providing homes at a rate sufficient to meet the demand would need to answer, “yes,” to a number of questions:
- Is the structure safe?
- Is it cost-effective?
- Are the raw materials readily available?
- Is it customizable based on the requirements of a specific geographic location?
- Is it quick to build?
Does anything else check these boxes better than concrete 3D-printed homes (and other buildings)? And is the general public ready to embrace concrete 3D-printed homes?
Project 1: Concrete Confidence in The Big Apple
In New York, Kirk Andersen, Director of Operations for SQ4D, tested the market with a 900-square-foot 3D-printed model home in Long Island. Public reaction was so positive, it immediately resulted in a proposal for a new 3D-printed home down the road from the model. The new home will be larger at around 1,500 square feet and will feature three bedrooms, two bathrooms and a garage. The listing price is in the region of $299,000 (not a misprint), which is approximately half the price of a newly built comparable home in the area.
Local real estate agent, Stephen King, who is selling the property, met with a CNBC crew in February 2021 and told them, “By the time I walk out of this house I’ll have 20 emails, 20 voicemails, and 20 texts, and by the time I get to respond to them I will have another 20 emails, 20 texts and 20 voicemails, so it’s nonstop.” Clearly, demand is surprisingly high.
Project 2: Palm Beach, Printed
If you’re still curious about 3D-printed buildings, jump in the car and leave Long Island, heading south on the I-95. You’ll reach West Palm Beach in about 24 hours. (The drive is 19.5 hours, but we’ve allowed four and a half hours for meals, gas-stops, a brief nap and several bathroom breaks.)
Near West Palm Beach is where Florida’s first 3D-printed building was recently planted. This time, it’s not a residential building, but rather a 30 x 30-foot agricultural building, produced by Printed Farms, a Florida-based start-up.
We’ve all got compact printers at home, and maybe bigger commercial units at the office, but who amongst us can brag that we have a printer measuring 50 feet wide, 42 feet long and 33 feet high? That’s the size of the BOD2 printer from COBOD and that’s what Printed Farms used to build the Florida unit, which passed inspection (with flying colors) by a structural engineer. You can see the BOD2 in action here.
Printed Farms is already moving on to its next project: a 6,000-square-foot building, comprised of 3 floors of 2,000 square feet each, while they get through the planning phase for two intracoastal villas. Clearly, the public is ready to embrace 3D-printed homes.
Project 3: Hot Stuff South of the Border
The advent of 3D-printing has been a game changer in a number of industries, but its impact on the construction industry may have enormous societal ramifications . . .
In late 2019, an unparalleled project commenced in Tabasco, Mexico. The concept was to 3D-print an entire village, with the homes specifically designed to cope with the harsh Tabasco weather and local seismic activity. Engineered beyond standard safety requirements, the first two houses took a mere 24 hours to print and are the first two homes in a community of 50. There’s a short video showing the start of the project — and its beautiful results — here.
Nothing in the last couple of hundred years has impacted the construction industry the way 3D-printing is set to. Massive savings in both time and materials makes this an excellent option and, excuse the pun, paves the way for affordable, sustainable building in the future. Massive thanks are owed to the countless CAD/BIM professionals, designers and engineers who have pioneered this process.
A Solid Foundation
Regardless of whether it’s Revit, AutoCAD or MicroStation, you know that for the most part, your platform is pretty solid in terms of its performance. But there’s something all of these platforms seem to have in common and that is politely summed up in one word: quirkiness. You know what we mean, because you live it every day: the repetitive tasks, such as the frustration of imports from Word® documents or Excel® spreadsheets that simply don’t turn out right, or the drunken formatting you have to wrestle into shape, to name but a few.
Microsoft Office Importer™ offers a rapid solution to all the above. In literally one simple step, it quickly imports Excel spreadsheets and Word documents into your project files. What’s more, it gives you perfectly flawless formatting that handles issues such as text size, bolding, italics, fonts, column widths and row heights, so that no additional futzing around is required from you. Not content with easy imports and the above-mentioned flawless formatting, Microsoft Office Importer additionally offers a feature affectionately referred to as “Link and Sync”. Never again worry about how to keep the Excel and Word data inside your project file synchronized with changes to the same data outside of it.
. . . you live it every day: the repetitive tasks, the frustration of imports . . . or the drunken formatting you have to wrestle into shape . . .
Microsoft Office Importer automatically links them when you do an import, so that you’re always up to date. If you’d like this kind of effortless efficiency as part of your CAD repertoire, call 727-442-7774 or visit AxiomInt.com. You’ll be completing projects quicker than a 3D-printed building goes up!