Much like Bio-printing, 3D printed houses have become somewhat of a buzzword. Last week, WinSun, a Chinese company, released images of some of their 3D printed houses that are under construction and the media lit up in a frenzy. 3D printed houses could be the future, especially for developing countries or audacious building projects, but how do they stand up against the test of time. Some people, including Andrey Rudenko are beginning to test the idea of 3D printed houses and how long they may last.

Andrey’s cement 3D printer is designed to print medium-sized homes in various shapes, all from G-code (same as what’s used for CNC mills and other 3D printers). The printer has been reduced in size to fit in a two-car garage for testing purposes and Andrey believes that the frame, beam, towers and rails of the printer can withstand windy weather conditions with ease. The video below shows the cement printer producing a concrete insulated wall in winter weather conditions (0 degrees Celsius).

Are We on the Right Track 

Other’s believe we’re going about the development of 3D printed buildings all wrong. Eric Hunting claims that the two main issues with 3D printed buildings  are the proposed methods of construction and the materials being used. Concrete is the go to material for 3D printed buildings, but Eric believes it introduces unnecessary weight restrictions. He also says that we should be printing buildings in sections, rather than trying to build the whole thing on sight. He thinks a large scale “Robocrane” would do the job.

There’s a lot of hype today around the concept of 3D printed architecture. But it’s peculiar in that it is completely focused on the idea of very large size in-situ printing of whole buildings foundation-up using heavy extruded masonry materials…As I see it, in-situ house printing is going to long be stymied by the bulk and complexity of mobile hardware that, basically, has to span the whole volume of the structures being produced and, for some time, will take almost as much time and skill to set up as is necessary to build a house by hand from scratch. It’s industrial gigantism again. So it’s not going to be economical for a long time and it’s not likely to produce much open hardware. It’s going to be dominated by those with access to gigantic capital investment and, therefore, will probably not be applied in the places and situations this technology might most benefit for a very long time to come.

Robocrane 3D printer
Proposed Robocrane idea Credit: CMU.edu

Eric proposes the use of recycled composites, possibly made from wood or corn. “we have seen the emergence of corn resin based wood composites that allow 3D printing of this very wood-like material likewise produced from recycled waste. This is potentially much more efficient than cutting sheet materials by CNC and, when combined with soy-based polyurethane foam, would likewise produce a structure that’s entirely compostable. Following the examples of things like the Modernist classic Venturo housing or using monocoque bay shells akin to the bay system of WikiHouse, these could be quite light and easy to assemble and quite comfortable compared to ‘plastic’ prefab houses of the past…”

Eric definitely brings up some interesting points on the current situation of large format 3D printers. Head over to the Gooogle Groups page Eric set up to find out more.

Source: Google Groups