3D Printed Houses: How are they constructed? [Part 1]

3D Printed Houses: How are they constructed? [Part 1]

While some may argue that conventional manufacturing technologies have their benefits, various industries have witnessed the growth in their production rate with the application of advanced manufacturing techniques like Additive Manufacturing (3D Printing). One such example is the implementation of 3D Printing in the construction industry. As surprising as it may sound, you can now engage in printing a whole building which can be tailored to meet your requirements and specifications. Constructing houses out of 3D Printing are one of the several recent breakthroughs in the technology. Let us dig deeper into how this technology can modify the way live, and its impact in the construction sector.

When we actually contemplate this, various questions pop up into our mind. How are these 3D Printed houses built? What are the materials used in building these houses? Are these 3D Printed houses habitable? Has anybody built a house before using 3D Printing technology? I was full of questions when I first came across this application. And I am sure that you can’t stop obsessing over them either. But rest assured, by the end of this article, you should have all these questions answered.

How does this work?

We already know the effectiveness of 3D Printing technology in creating various models and prototypes, even those with complex geometries. The need for extensive labor, inventory costs etc. have all been reduced, thus minimizing the overall cost of executing a full-fledged product. Thanks to the outstanding features, civil engineers have started incorporating 3D Printing technology worldwide. The emerging 3D Printers have allowed printing of larger parts within a little span of time and with minimal cost. But still printing full-fledged houses is sort of pushing it a little.

Basically, 3D Printers used in Construction/ building houses look slightly different from their Plastic and Metal counterparts. These printers have automated arms which are used to build the houses. You can watch the video below.

A 3D Printer used in large-scale construction activities should be able to print enormously big structures thus demanding the aid of a robotic arm for deposition of the materials required for the printing of large architectural structures.

Initially, an architect or an engineer can create a model of the design of the house to be built on a desktop 3D Printer that uses resin material or a plastic filament. Further, for building up a tangible creation of the same design, a similar 3D Printer but comparatively larger in size is incorporated which makes use of concrete and other commonly used building materials. Some of the main 3D Printing methods used to construct a real-life house include extrusion using concrete, or cement, or wax, etc., powder bonding such as polymer or reactive bonding, and additive welding. The proper working of the robotic arms in 3D Printing a whole house can be understood by studying the works of MIT as posted in the journal Science Robotics. The whole system consists of a tracked vehicle which is meticulously mounted with a large robotic arm. At the tip of this arm, one will find a smaller robotic arm. While the large robotic arm rotates around the structure, the smaller one is engaged in extruding concrete or spraying various insulation materials required for the construction of the building. It has free mobility and can be customized to print on any kind of surface. It is highly self-sufficient at the same time completely autonomous.

Materials used in the construction of 3D Printing Houses:

The 3D Printers incorporated in various brimming sectors are proficient in printing a large variety of materials. With the expansion in the application of 3D Printing technology in building houses, numerous 3D Printing materials are being introduced into the market. Sustainable materials are also widely used for establishing a credible housing system. While thousands of printed houses can be produced with the use of metal or plastic, a new face of printing houses using concrete 3D Printers has been introduced in the market.

Now that you know the process and application of 3D Printing technology in the construction sector, let us now venture into some of the pioneering work being done in this field and our take on it, in the succeeding article, here/(Part 2).