Real Estate Minute with Cyril Nii Ayitey Tetteh: All about 3D Printed Houses(one)


Yes! You can literally print your home in days, fascinating isn’t it? Technology really knows no bounds and in the real estate space the latest trend is 3D printing of houses. I can imagine the look on your face, happened to me too, but that is why I am here to share bits about this latest trend. Today I will join you on the student side as we glean off thoughts of experts around the world.

The concept

So what is 3D printing and how is it connected to printing of houses? Our teacher Stefanie Waldek of House Beautiful shared her thoughts. The concept of 3D printing—or additive manufacturing, as it’s formally known—isn’t a particularly new one. The first 3D printers were built in the 1980s, though the technology wasn’t refined to the point of mass consumerism until the last decade or so. And while 3D printers can now be found in laboratories, classrooms, and architecture studios around the world for printing all kinds of small parts, designers are looking to print the next big thing—quite literally: They’re looking to 3D print houses.

In essence, 3D-printed houses are made the same way any other 3D-printed object is made: A material (like concrete or plastic) is extruded through a nozzle that can move in three dimensions to print an object. But in the case of homes, the printer needs to be a bit larger and a bit hardier, given that it needs to operate outdoors on varied terrain.

The Technique

One of the popular printers, the Vulcan, weighs a literal ton, is almost 12 feet tall and looks like a cross between a table and a weighlifting rack. Manned by a crew of four to six people, it can print structures that measure up to 28 feet wide by 81/2 feet tall.

In this context, “print” means scanning digital blueprints and transforming them into physical objects using an extruder, or mobile cartridge. The square block is outfitted with a nozzle and shifts back and forth on a bar that constantly raises and lowers itself to the perfect height. Material is squeezed out — in this case,  ICON’s proprietary concrete mixture Lavacrete — much the way a toothpaste tube dispenses toothpaste. 


A 3D printed house, built in only 24 hours

According to sculpto, additive manufacturing can build house faster than any manufacturing method! Apis Cor, a San Francisco startup 3D printed an entire house in only 24 hours in Russia. The company used a mobile 3D printer to make the entire structure of the house. This tiny home has been 3D printed on site. This impressive project shows how 3D printing could revolutionize the whole construction field. 

The first 3D printed office building

Dubai’s Museum of the Future unveiled an impressive project in the United Arab Emirates. It took 17 days to print the whole building. One person was employed to use the printer, seven people were working on the components on site, and ten electricians were also working on this building. At least, the contractor saved 50 percent on traditional labour costs to build this 250 square meters space. This could be the workspace of the future! It is not only an experiment; this is actually a fully functional office.

The 3D printed modular home

The Zhuoda Group in China 3D printed parts of a modular home. Six modules were assembled to create this surprising house. This is an entire house, with plumbing, kitchen and decoration. The construction company says that this 3D printed house is strong enough to withstand earthquakes, fire and water.

Ten 3D printed houses in one day

The Chinese company WinSun Decoration Design Engineering built ten houses in only 24 hours. This impressive construction shows that 3D printing has some unbeatable advantages and can provide quality homes in only one day. They also worked on a new printing material made of cement, sand and fibre. 

Clearly, technology is up to a big thing that can solve a lot of the housing issues with respect to the narrowing the huge deficit and making houses affordable especially in these parts. In another piece we will look at the pros and cons of 3D printed homes and how sustainable they are in our local Ghanaian context, until then I will leave you with this profound quote by Ava Reichental, founder & CEO of XponentialWorks – If you build it they will come. And if you 3D print it, they will come faster, cheaper and more sustainably.

The writer is the Executive director of Yecham Property Consult

 & Founder of Ghana Green Building Summit.

Email: [email protected]

LinkedIn: Cyril Nii Ayitey Tetteh

YouTube:  Real Estate Minute

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