3D Print Your Next Dwelling In A Day

What’s the shortest amount of time in which a 400 square foot home can be built? A few weeks? Try a fully printed structure in 24 hours for a little over $10,000.

This radial residence was materialized out of concrete in Stupino, Russia by [Apis Cor], and six collaborating companies, as a prototype. As opposed to traditional — such as it is for tech largely in its infancy — assembly of pre-printed or fabricated pieces, the building was printed as a whole, with the printer removed by crane before finishing the rest of the construction. It features a bathroom, hallway, living room, and a compact kitchen — everything a bachelor or bachelorette needs.

The tantalizing prospect of building a house in such a short time has dozens of applications. Moreover, if this low-cost housing proves to be as enduring as promised, it could mean an alternative for people starting out on their own, or an affordable, modular option for families around the world where more traditional lodgings are out of their reach.

We’ve featured individual efforts to 3D print houses, as well as hotel-sized operations, but we’re always excited to see new innovations in this burgeoning field.

[via Mashable]

51 thoughts on “3D Print Your Next Dwelling In A Day

    1. I’d love to see a 3D-printed Earthship. They’re great structures but are hampered by labor costs. But give a robot a pile of tires and dirt and in a week you’d have an earth-friendly low energy structure? Now that’s cool.

      1. In countries that absolutely never have earthquakes AKA nowhere. :-) Steel and Concrete, peanutbutter and jelly, chips and salsa, Batman and Robin, ….. They just gotta be together.

    1. Hi Chris, I get your point, haha.
      The only way to make a curved TV look good is to deform the wall behind it.
      In the past we had curved CRT TV screens… then we had flat CRT TV screens… then we had flat plasma/LCD TV screens and now we can buy curved screens again (although the curve is inverted) the only way to make that look good against a wall is to curve the wall accordingly.

      1. Jan, this is genius, design you house around you tv, now leap back to the 60s, punch a hole in your living room wall into your neighbours living room and shove your crt tv through it, he does the same and you both get a flat/curved tv and his heats your house and yours heats his.

  1. I can build that in a day with reinforced concrete without all this preparation and bullshit, make it to code and stronger. And at least x10 times cheaper than this would cost.

    So whats the point really ? Have 20 000 “printers” that build 24/7/365 ?

      1. You could “build” a what, roughly 400 sq ft house out of a single used shipping container too in about ten minutes, for only about $1200. But the suggested price of this also leaves out delivery, insulation, electricity, plumbing, land, lighting, HVAC, gutters, permits (if necessary), concrete (if needed), windows, blinds, doors, locks, paint, carpet or flooring and anything else needed to make this livable. Walls, toilet, sink, shower, outlets, lights, etc.

        In short, building a roof and 4 walls doesn’t mean you suddenly built a house.

        1. The video said the price included: Foundation, Roof, Inner and Outer finishing, Insulation, Windows, floors and suspended ceiling… So some of that stuff actually WAS included, I agree the price isn’t for a full house though… I still don’t know how they did it that cheap…

          1. My guess it not counting labor at all and barely insulating it? Not clear how elaborate the foundation is or what code it meets exactly. Inner and outer finishing appears to be literally a coat of paint. Windows and floors are reasonably straightforward, it’s not that many windows (though the windows may need to be a certain type to meet code). The suspended ceiling is super cheap for only 400 sq ft and more of an aesthetic issue anyway.

            The biggest reason this is cheap has more to do with the fact that it is “only” 400 sq ft in size and doesn’t need much in the way of aesthetic concerns or roofing or traditional, labor intensive fabrication.

            Scale this to 40,000 sq ft and the price is not going to scale linearly while all being under one roof.

        2. $1200 is a cheap 40 footer, but they are weather and rodent proof. Delivery of a pair of 20’s is a lot cheap than a single 40 if it is not too far. 20’s fit on the tilt-bed tow trucks and they have a dingus that grabs the container by the stacking holes. Now, a 40 that is a refrigeration unit, with a little slant to hose it out when the kids are at school. Hmmm.

          1. $1200 is a bit cheap but not unheard of if you live near a port city and it’s used. $1500 to $2000 would get you a decent used one. Not going to get a used reefer for that price though.

          2. Got a refer (and no engine) at the Port of Tacoma for a cousin in the chicken business. Add some plumbing and they are easy to certify for food processing. He added an electric motor and runs just the freezer section. I think it was $3500. That is a 300 square foot stainless steel fully washable setup for about $4500 total. Worked out great.

    1. Some of us have actually built houses, and cellars and are familiar with construction techniques used with reinforced concrete, it would take a day just to bend and tie the mesh and bars, what about foundations, shuttering, curing, removing the shuttering, foof windows and doors.
      but if you’re sure, come to the uk and do my 400 sq ft workshop, I’ll cover airfare and accommodation.

      1. i was about to mention that a conservative price range for small reinforced concrete projects lies in the 75-100usd range pr cubic meter, doors and windows aren’t cheap either.

        what i don’t get is why various fibre fillings aren’t used more often, it might be a tooling issue, but there is plenty of data to show how even modest fibre fillers can dramatically improve the structural properties of concrete, avoiding the need for reinforced concrete, i don’t think it could replace pre tensioned concrete though.

        1. So a fiber filling is what exactly? Fiberglass? Do they have the same relationship carbon fiber fibers have to carbon fiber panels on cars? In other words is the fiber laid into the form and surrounded by concrete?

    2. The point? Really?

      “prototype”, “tech largely in its infancy”

      One day we could push a button and a machine will get the thing done. What I can do well today, a machine may be able to do one day better, faster and cheaper. That is the whole point of technology, innit? The R&D must be done and the product will be improved, refined, re-imagined. I will allow you to disparage today’s prototype. But yeah.

  2. They mention using fiberglass reinforcing rods during the construction. I wonder if they were placed by hand or by the machine.

    I also wonder how they accounted for plumbing and electrical work. Maybe conduit in the walls?

    1. There’s a ton of stuff that the 3D-printing part didn’t do, obviously, including the entire roof, insulation, and almost certainly the reinforcement; you’d have a small crew putting in fixtures and conduit at the right times before the cement hardened and was covered over. I would also bet there was a significant amount of time (a day, at least?) waiting for the walls to cure before putting that roof on. Still neat though.

  3. I too am impressed, I imagined a huge frame like a conventional 3D printer, this is genius, but I get the impression it’s going to annoy a lot of conventional builders.

  4. I dunno I’m not totally sold. My initial thought was “Wow this could be a godsend for disaster areas” until I thought more about the whole 24hr thing. Which means to get anywhere you would need potentially hundreds if not thousands of these things all churning at the same time. Even then in a lot of cases it would only end up used as temporary housing.

    I could definitely see them for construction in remote locations.

    I can definitely see something like this being the goto construction method for certain things in the future, just not the immediate future.

    1. There have been fast and good temporary buildings made using polyurethane foam since at least the 80’s. Inflate flexible mold, inject the urethane and wait for it to cure, deflate mold and move it to the next location. Could be done with concrete too however that would take longer to cure.

      That construction technique is of course limited to primitive structures like an igloo shape.

  5. I like their floor layout, wish they had a little more detail on that. But main reason I don’t see it working? Local codes. I haven’t found a single “affordable” design that meets the local codes. Granted, this may not be a big obstacle in Russia, but the U.S. is terrible about that. At least around here.

    I’ve also been trying to figure out how to afford a home, and the math never adds up on these “affordable homes.” And for some reason, they all come in around that magic $10,000 price point. (Like everything sold on TV after midnight is $19.99)
    I did spend a year building a house for my father recently(the only things I did not do were dig/pour the foundation, and put the final metal sheeting on the roof) All other work was done by my father, my uncle, and myself. Granted, it’s two stories, and 1024 square feet. (Yes, I purposefully made it end up at that number for amusement) Ended up being about $40K

    1. $40 per sq ft of finished space is on the lower side and about in line with you getting free labor and not needing to make a profit or invest in many or any tools. If you added that in, you would probably be closer to $80 to $100 per sq ft, depending on what went in it exactly and what codes you had to meet. Sounds fairly typical. You don’t build a finished, fully insulated, small structure that meets code for $20 to $25 per sq ft unless your labor is free and you cut lots of corners.

    1. That’s really neat. I’m amazed Concrete Canvas has been around 10 years without me seeing it before. It looks like it makes casting thin sections of concrete in flowing shapes easy.

  6. Without windows it’s nearly bullet safe. We could use a lot of these in Syria right now. Russia? Oh that explains it.

    Tornado magnets? Looks like a wind turbine. Build on shaft like a Dymaxion House, merry-go-round for the kids and power to run things. Can’t roll a ball on the floor in a straight line though, with out a little trick. Coriolis effect you know!

    Wouldn’t need a computer driven head just simple gearing to print. As I see a simple geometry here.

  7. Articles like this are always media fabrications to create hype. A 3d printer isn’t laying electrical, plumbing, heating, or many of the other requirements of a house; and a true cost analysis would amortize the cost of the printer and its transportation over the number of residences it can build before reaching end-of-life.

    I suspect that prefab is the way of the future. Maybe 3d printers are a part of that, but large CNC or other traditional processes are just as likely.

    I’ve never understood why people expect 3d printers to become household appliances – its pointless for every household to own something that will sit idle 99% of the itme. Stick them in a warehouse, let people order online, and have robots do delivery.

  8. Let me doubt that concrete without reinforcements won’t turn into a pile of crap before the next summer. 3D-printed houses are like 3D-printed guns, their shape resemble that of their traditional counterparts’ but for some reasons better guns can be made in a machining workshops and even the most advanced structures are still handmade.

    1. Did you really just compare a steel structure (hand gun in a machine shop) to a plastic gimmick (3D printed gun)?
      I’m happy to admit the properly designed steel reinforcement makes concrete stronger, but we are actually talking about a single storey building, there would be no benefit to adding steel, not even to tye the outer skin to the inner because the steel must not have access to an oxygen supply or water and in a printed design this possibility cannot be guaranteed.

    2. Yes unreinforced concrete is known to mysteriously transform to puddles of excrement… Ever heard of the Pantheon? Unreinforced concrete dome that’s still structurally sound after… Well, do the math yourself.

      1. I suppose the foundation is below the ground and is several times thicker than the walls in the picture. I also expect the concrete in your house contains significant amount of pebbles which make it much stronger despite the lack of steel bars. As you can see, the hoses and nozzles in the machine seem to be too narrow to allow pebbles in the concrete without a risk of clogging. I also consider the tent (?) roof to be an indication that the walls are not capable of carrying any significant load.

        Considering the thickness of the nozzles, I’d say it’s like using pavement tiles as bricks. Have you seen anyone doing so?

        There is also a possibility, they are not using concrete but something different because it is not possible for concrete to fully cure in 24h. It needs several days, even when it seems quite hard. So if it isn’t concrete, then maybe it is something that won’t disintegrate as quickly as I think

  9. Pain in the arse to get it out of the building after printing. How could it print a two story building?

    I would have thought a delta printer style from 3 pylons would be easier to setup and allow for a larger range of sizes and allow printing on uneven levels.

    And as others have said, how strong is it? What about the CO2 released by all that concrete?

    It’s a good start but needs some work and still may prove to not be the right choice. Prefab houses seem to allow for more complete houses in the same time.

    1. It doesn’t print the roof, it wouldn’t print the floors. A boom truck can probably lift it out in a couple pieces. You’ve never leveled a delta style printer have you? It’s not fun. I don’t think the CO2 from concrete is the biggest contributor for global warming, could be though, it is the most used building material in the world.

    2. /me humbly pointing towards dams made of concrete well over 200mtr height, using at least 1000000 times the amount of concrete, not to mention bridges, tunnels, towers…

  10. Wow.. that student.. the acting.. did they go hire some folks from the same pool of actors who do infomercials… SOOO CRINGEWORTHY…

    Don’t get me wrong, the tech’s cool.. but that video.. gaaah…

  11. Is new bad? 1970s Britain, “Buy British, jap crap cars are terrible” it was probably the same in the states, the reality was and is Japanese cars are and were brilliant, 2015 all over worl except China, “buy local not the Chinese rubbish” sthill chainsaws and John Deere tractors both have “made in china” written on them.
    2017 “3D printed houses are a bad idea” because, it’s not reinforced! Neither are bricks. It farts CO2! What and bricks, footings, mortar, rooftiles and everything else in a house doesn’t? It’s no quicker! Bullshit. Well it’s not as quick as a prefab! Again bulllshit a prefab is…. err,,, PRE fabficated you just dont see that bit.
    “It can’t build very high” err, No, one of the recurring complaints was it not reinforced so let’s not go very high.
    “It’s difficult to get the printer out of the middle” yes, it is if you use a sack Barrow.

    People the problems do exist, do the diagonal braces from external walls bring in the cold to the internal walls, and what was the foundation, can the roof be better flat roofing is never the best chioce.
    Is there anyone out there using one of the early and unmodified 3D printers?
    I suspect that printed houses are a new and still in development thing, which is why there’s so many different ways to do it.

    Don’t worry, steam locomotives will be so heavy they won’t be able to move under their own power.

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