The first-ever 3D-printed, two-story home is under construction in Houston, Texas, and provides an example of what could be a tectonic shift in home and commercial construction.
- 3D printers have multiple applications—from making plastic parts and molds for tools to prototype designs, now they’re capable of building houses.
- A 12-ton 3D printer is being used to construct a two-story, 4,000-square-foot home in Houston.
- The printer will take approximately 330 hours to print out the new home.
- One-story homes have been printed before, but two-story edifices are more complex and require structural and logistical problem-solving.
- The three-bedroom home is halfway finished and has already secured a buyer.
Why it’s news
The chaotic housing market over the years following the pandemic, the chaotic housing market has highlighted the need for additional housing. Low inventories were part of the reason housing prices skyrocketed, but construction takes time.
3D printing is one potential innovation that could provide inexpensive, quickly built homes. Additionally, the printer’s concrete material could better withstand extreme weather events.
Right now, the concrete-construction is more expensive than a traditional stick-built home, but the home’s engineers are confident that 3D-printed homes will become more cost-effective as the 3D technology improves. For now, the longevity and low-maintenance nature of the material could save homeowners some money in the long term.
The printer is also an answer to labor shortages in the construction industry as the machine takes fewer workers to operate than a traditionally constructed home.
Backing up a bit
An affordable housing shortage is a problem plaguing many Americans. Reusing large, empty buildings could be a resourceful way to address the problem. From 2020 to 2021, the total number of apartment conversions rose 25%, totaling nearly 28,000 overall conversion apartments.
Office buildings were the most popular choice for conversions. The number of office spaces converted rose by 43%, or around 11,090 apartments. These conversions will likely continue as 77,000 additional conversions are planned as developers prepare for a boom of apartment conversions in the near future.
The number of empty office buildings will likely grow as businesses finish running out their lease on buildings. This means the number of potential conversions could also rise as building owners try to find a new source of income.