There is no doubt that 3D printing now sits at the core of multiple industries, thanks to its enormous range of applications; automobiles, clothing, even food can now be made – and remade – with extreme accuracy and zero waste. 3D printers are now entering the housing industry since numerous homebuilders have chosen to automate parts of the construction which can be both time-consuming and expensive when built by hand.
A new Ukrainian homebuilding startup called PassivDom uses a 3D printing robot that can print parts for tiny houses. The machine can print the walls, roof, and floor of PassivDom’s 380-square-foot model in about eight hours. The windows, doors, plumbing, and electrical systems are then added by a human worker. When complete, the homes are autonomous, meaning they don’t need to connect to external electrical and plumbing systems, and also mobile; ready to be shipped the next day. Solar energy is stored in a battery connected to the houses, and water is collected and filtered from humidity in the air (or you can pour water into the system yourself). To make a PassivDom home, the team maps out the plan for the 3D printer in its factories in Ukraine and California. Layer by layer, the seven-axel robot prints the roof, floor, and 20-centimeter-thick walls, which are made of carbon fibers, polyurethane, resins, basalt fibers, and fiberglass. The houses also feature an independent sewage system. Depending on the model, the whole process can take under 24 hours. The design and production of larger, custom-made houses with more specifications and finishes can take up to a month. But premade models are also available. And if you are thinking you wouldn’t’ t want a home looking like your kid’s latest Playmobil house-building attempt, you can have a look at the pictures PassivDom released and guess again; these homes sure don’t lack elegance.
PassivDom is not the only company using 3D printing to build homes. The San Francisco-based housing startup Apis Cor, Dus Architects in Amsterdam, as well as Branch Technology from Chattanooga, Tennessee, say they can construct homes in mere days or weeks. PassivDom’s smallest model measures 380 square feet and costs $31,900, designer Maria Sorokina told The Business Insider. PassivDom believes 3D printing is a cheaper, more efficient way to build homes that it can sell at a (relatively) affordable price.
“Over 100 million people do not have a roof over their heads,” Sorokina said. “It is necessary to build more affordable houses”. In response to the growing demand for housing worldwide, England-based Malaysian architecture student Haseef Rafiei came up with a concept featuring a combined-use skyscraper (with commercial pods located within the lower levels of the tower) doubling as an oversized vending machine for 3D printed space. Ideally, he would like it to be located in the heart of Tokyo. “Think of the building as a large frame housing different affordable, modular homes,” said the 25-year-old architecture student to Forbes.
First, you decide on the number and type of pods you want—whether it is residential, commercial, or both. Based on that decision, you choose the amenities such as kitchens, bathrooms or conference rooms for the sub-pods. With the order sent to a gigantic 3D printer above the building where the pods will be produced, it means the building will grow as the printing continues. Once the pods are printed, they will be transported by mobile cranes and mechanical arms and plugged on the top of the building. All in all, from entering your order to having a pod fully installed, the entire process is estimated to take 24 hours to complete. According to urban planning experts, for a superstructure like this to get built in Tokyo, the development, engineering and design costs would be monstrous. Even if it is going to be realized, it’s likely another, albeit intriguing, luxury concept for people who can actually afford it. And so are PossivDom’s mobile 3D printed houses, although their price could decrease over the years since 3D printing is a game changer in the industry. But nevertheless, it may be a good move for start-ups to have the common good in mind, at least in theory.