You Wouldn’t 3D Print A House, Would You?

Most houses built in the US today are platform construction: skinny two-by-fours are stacked and layered to create walls with studs. Each floor is framed on top of the other. It is fast, relatively cheap, and easy to learn how to do. However, it is not without drawbacks. Some estimates put the amount of waste generated per square foot (0.09 m2) at around 3.9 lbs (1.8 kg).

Timber framing is an older style where giant beams are used to create the structure of the house. Each timber is hand-carved and shaped, requiring skill and precision. Some cabins are still built this way because it is easy to source the timber locally and cutting into big logs is less work than cutting into lots of small logs. It’s relatively ecologically friendly, but slow and skilled-labor intensive.

We live in a world where there is a vast need for cheaper, faster, more eco-friendly housing, but finding a solution that can tick all the boxes is fiendishly difficult. Can 3D-printed housing accomplish all three of those goals? We’re not there yet, but we’re working on it.

Current State Of The Art In 3D Houses

The idea of a machine to build homes has existed all the way back to 1930. The thought behind 3D-printed houses is that by eliminating some of the human work required, it can scale better and lower costs. But despite the novel machinery, the overall methods of house-building haven’t changed that much. Broadly there seem to be three categories in the market today: prefab, print-in-place, and cut-on-site.


Prefab is exactly what you think. Pieces are printed in some facility, ideally close to the building site, and then shipped to be assembled by a team of workers. This allows the prints to benefit from a controlled environment with calibrated and reliable tooling. Or even to print very large pieces like this absolutely massive printer in China. Companies such as Mighty Buildings are working towards prefab modules and whole units that are built from glass fiber reinforced thermoset resin. The benefit of a thermoset material is that it cures stronger and harder than traditional resins you might see in a printer. However, layer-to-layer adhesion suffers as a result.

Mighty Buildings came up with a clever workaround by using multiple UV sources. Layers only partially cure when depositing the top layer and then are cured fully later as the layers stack up above. It is important to note that these buildings are not significantly cheaper or faster than a prefab houses made with traditional methods, but there should be less waste and more flexibility in design.

Print in Place

Print in place often involves a giant 3d printer setup on the site like this one back in 2015. Over the years, advancements have been made making the printer faster, more precise, easier to set up, easier to transport, and so on. However, one area that seems to be much harder to figure out is what to actually extrude.

The real advantage of these systems is they can run around the clock, slowly printing the structures as needed. But if it is printing unsupervised and the nozzle clogs or the layers don’t adhere, it is a big deal. Those who own 3D printers can you imagine starting a four-day print on your printer? One that you can’t just scrape up off the bed and pitch in the recycling when it goes sideways? You need to get it right the first time.

Most companies use some sort of concrete mixture that’s been optimized to flow cleanly through a nozzle. However, concrete isn’t particularly well known for its eco-friendliness as it is a major contributor to greenhouse gases emitted globally.

House Zero courtesy of ICON and Casey Dunn
House Zero courtesy of ICON and Casey Dunn

ICON uses a print-in-place method and has produced several houses and is on track to build several hundred more. What’s unique about one of their houses, House ZERO pictured above, is that it leans into what 3D-printed houses are good at. Walls can be any shape: unlike most houses that are square and boxy out of necessity, this house has a sort of wave to it. Whether you visually like it or not, achieving the same effect in the structural elements of the house would be incredibly difficult and wasteful. What is more important is that this house is for sale and is livable.

Cut On-Site

Cut-on-site is a bit of a different approach. It is somewhat of a hybrid between prefab and print in place. It’s not really printed but brings in some of the same ideas. A company brings the machine that creates pieces onto the site but rather than creating one monolithic print, you create smaller pieces that can be built and assembled together as they come out of the machine. A large CNC shipped to the site accepts sheets of plywood and turns them into boxes with holes for insulation, wiring, plumbing, and all the other strange tubes we have running through our walls. Facit Homes is a company that produces homes using this technique. Their CNC router produces “cassettes” according to the design of the house and they’re assembled. While it generates more waste than pure additive manufacturing, each cassette is made from a standard piece of plywood and it makes it easy to reuse and recycle. They’ve produced a dozen houses that are quite modern but otherwise normal-looking homes.

The Verdict

Currently, 3D printed houses don’t achieve their goals of being cheaper, faster, or environmentally friendly. None of the homes we reviewed here were cheaper than traditional methods, and some cost significantly more. While some were faster, there is still the issue of finishing. After the structure of the house has been constructed, professionals need to come and install windows, doors, trim, and all the things we enjoy about homes. Electrical and plumbing also need to be installed in the structure.

Despite their shortcomings, 3D homes have two major strengths. They can create shapes and forms that traditional construction cannot, as seen in the House ZERO. Additionally, they are far less wasteful than traditional construction. Platform construction creates literal tons of waste and 3D-printed structures are printed with only what they need. It’s just in the nature of comparing additive and subtractive manufacturing.

Obviously, this isn’t a complete overview of the industry. There are companies and techniques under development that aren’t covered here. We’s say there’s been slow but exciting progress in the industry. What was a pipedream twenty years ago is now in its infancy — homes have been built and people have bought them and moved in, which is a major milestone. We’ll keep our eyes on it.

Anything we missed? Let us know in the comments.

62 thoughts on “You Wouldn’t 3D Print A House, Would You?

  1. What’s the qualifier and breakdown on that waste figure? Is it just biodegradable wood offcuts?

    Seems like those’d be more environmentally friendly than a huge concrete structure. And usable in a variety of ways.

    1. I realize they didn’t say specifically, but I would think this includes chunks of PVC/PEX from plumbing, chunks of wire, offcuts of insulation, broken/excess roof shingles, etc. There are lots of cutoffs/excess materials that happen on site that aren’t biodegradable.

      1. You need to quantify ‘lots’ there. All that stuff is expensive and a home builder isn’t going to be in business very long if they are throwing ‘lots’ (as I would define it) of that stuff out. With a quick google, it appears building a large 4 person home in America generates about 8,000lbs in waste (they make no distinction between wood/plastic/metal etc). The average American generates about 2,000lbs in waste a year. All this being rough napkin math, building a home generates about as much waste a year’s worth of waste for the people living in it. Being that building a home is pretty uncommon, and it is only a year’s worth of waste, I would not quantify the amount of waste from building a home as ‘lots’.

        1. Clearly you’ve never done any personal renovation as it’s very common to waste approx. 10% of the product being used in construction. So much so the 10% is a rule of thumb: calculate how much material you need and add 10% for breakage, bad cuts, etc. That 10% is included in the costs for most bids, so the customer ends up paying for it which is why the contractors and builders don’t go out of business. Now if you can undercut your competitors by reducing or eliminating that 10%, you can get either a slight advantage in the market or take the profit for yourself.

          1. This article isn’t about “personal renovation” it is about new home construction. Not that it matters, but I had my general contracting license for almost 10 years before I went back to school for engineering because of the beating my body was taking. So, um, yeah, I do have some experience, lol. My comment had researched values pertaining to the article’s claims of weight of waste; your rebuttal states a non-sequitur “rule of thumb” as to costs and at the end basically agrees with my statement of “a home builder isn’t going to be in business very long if they are throwing ‘lots’” so I’m not sure what you were actually trying to say besides letting everyone know you recently did a home renovation.

          2. Tbh I think you’re missing the scale here.

            On a personal scale, you budget +10% material and it goes to waste.

            A large homebuilder is probably still going to bring +10% out to the site, but they’re unlikely to throw away much of it. Especially given the examples of wire and pipe… you’d take the remaining wire on the spool and put it in the next house. Same for pipe.

      2. You realize they don’t print plumbing, wiring, insulation or roofing out of crete?

        Those waste streams aren’t affected by crete walls. Except it’s now much harder to change anything in the walls.

        Last time I looked automatically putting plumbing and wiring conduit into printed concrete walls was still vapor. Hence worse then euro style pour in place concrete houses, where humans install that inside the molds and it is inspected before the pour just like it’s inspected before drywall in the USA.

        Also note: Unusual house shapes have been tried. (geodesic etc). Turns out they all suck much worse then rectilinear construction. Every interesting room shape results in useless space on the other side of the wall, hellish routing for wires/plumbing and waterproofing issues.

    2. Indeed. That is the most important question, as wasting 1Kg of concrete with its really large energy and carbon footprint is almost certainly worse than wasting 5Kg of wood products, even if they were imported woods…

      Though its also worth asking what lifespan these buildings will have – while timber buildings CAN last 100 years and more that is with maintenance and a little fortune, your concrete box will likely outlive your great great grandkids if nobody deliberately harms it, quite likely without maintenance.. So building in durable materials in ways that allow you to easily run new cables, adjust interior spaces (etc) – making it so the shell can adapt well to future technologies and usecases even if the construction waste is very high could still end up being a massive orders of magnitude better win on saving resources, quite possibly in a very short time.

      I know I’d not want to live in the typical framed house the Americans seem to like so much, might be cheap to build, but its that way for good reason… Give me a smaller footprint built to last for the same price anyday of the week.

      1. Concrete boxes don’t always last well. We’ve plenty of old concrete tower blocks that are a mess – though pillboxes seem to have survived so it might be the height that’s the issue.

        1. Its less about how big it is and more about if it was made correctly – rather giant Nazi fortifications in the Channel islands from WWII look basically the same now as when they were new, along with a great many other concrete fortifications older still. Heck even Roman ‘concrete’ (its from what I recall of a study I read still a slightly unknown blend of concrete stuff – though volcanic ash is a key component figured out again relatively recently) structures still exist.

          But if you don’t have the correct blend, don’t mix it well enough, have steel reinforcements and add a fire (it likely explodes), or have poor surface finish and lots of damp icy conditions to blow chunks out of it (etc – sure I’ve missed many other failure modes in either design or building to make use of concrete)…

          Worth pointing out though I wasn’t just talking about concrete – you can build very durable lasting structures from quarried stone as well for instance – its not so much about any specific material as figuring out the balance of construction costs to lifespan. Which means anything built to last has to be built in ways that are adaptable or for a very specific purpose that isn’t going away any time soon – like a theater. The construction design that makes such a thing good for staging plays makes it good for music, cinema, lectures, and all manner of other shows so that sort of building doesn’t need as much wiggle room in its construction to be worth building to last as a domestic or industrial building.

          1. Its not survivorship bias, as that implies by some miracle some survived but most concrete/brick/stone/etc builds will fail in short order and you only count the ones that made it. Which is a method you could equally try to apply to wooden structures, but as few of those last to 100 years, and the oldest will only be a few hundred (climate and lots of maintenance can of course shift those numbers a bit)… Where its trivial to find 500+ year old buildings with other materials, and lasting well for thousands of years even with neglect after the fall of the related empires happens in materials that are not wooden…

            It is a simple fact that built in any fashion other than terribly poorly that stone, concrete, and a vast amount of other building materials work out vastly more enduring than timber.

            Especially timber framing loosely sawn and usually held together with the smallest possible number of nails or screws which lasts much worse than more solid jointed timber constructions.

            NB I’m not against Wood in any way, but it is for longevity and maintenance requirements a vastly inferior building material to just about everything else humans have used for ‘permanent’ structures. It is however easy to work, usually sourcable locally and sustainably. It has got lots of potential benefits, but lifespan isn’t one.

          2. >Its not survivorship bias

            Yes it is. While the brick, stone or concrete may itself last centuries, everything else does not. Plumbing, insulation, wiring, interior finishing, floors… etc. are made of other materials that require complete replacement every 50 years anyways. That these materials can be replaced without tearing down the entire structure depends on the structure – but it generally implies an older construction that wasn’t built with any in the first place so they were add-ons.

            That’s why the surviving structures are very old, while newer concrete structures are typically modular and integral: they’re made with elements that have concrete and insulation foam sandwiches with conduits and wires already installed. Once they go it all has to go. That’s why things built in the early 20th century are still in use, while concrete housing built in the 70’s is getting torn down.

          3. While your point is valid Dude, there are buildings being actively torn down made of these materials that haven’t lived very long that has nothing to do with the material, and will happen just as often, maybe even numerically more often for other materials. It is entirely to do changing demands and that its so much cheaper and easier to pass planning regulations tearing down an older structure to build a modern heap of shit that matches the rubber stamp brigades current requirements in the crappiest way possible (and some of those buildings were terribly built and designed in the first place).

          4. Oh and Dude, of course you would not build solid stone walls several meter thick as an apartment. Completely different requirements.

            You probably would build very much similar to a 15th century castle if defense against small arms and more man portable cannon are of any importance to you..

            Also there is no reason replacing the items worn by use of a building requires a demolition no matter how it was built. When folks can turn said 15th century castles into hotels and the like, despite those stupidly thick, nearly impossible to breach walls! Where you really can’t run cables and pipes though easily a more modern concrete structure is a relative breeze to refit.

            The 60’s and 70’s concrete houses are largely being torn down because they are generally tiny miserable boxes, often with terrible insulation values as its the boom of cheap petrochemical everything. Stuff that a more developed nation with its more entitled, richer population doesn’t want to deal with – doesn’t mean there is anything wrong with them (though as noted in some cases they are actually terrible and worth tearing down – but the same happens in all materials sometimes, and the weaker the material the more likely it lasts bugger all time).

          5. >of course you would not build solid stone walls several meter thick

            You wouldn’t build a brick house up to late 19th century specifications either, because such construction that was designed to withstand time and the elements completely passively is energy inefficient – it leaks air and heat. Modern building codes and heating efficiency regulations pretty much demand that you add moisture barriers and wind breaks. In essence, you have to build the walls with plastic, which then makes the house into a bottle that has to be actively ventilated all the time or it starts to develop mold and rot, and the plastic has a limited lifespan of around 50 years.

          6. >often with terrible insulation values as its the boom of cheap petrochemical everything.

            It was the 70’s oil crisis that prompted regulators to demand energy efficient housing in the first place. The first attempts resulted in these miserable boxes.

            An apartment building made in the 40’s or 50’s might still have an actual flue for a wood or coal stove in each room, and holes through the walls for ventilation. It could have double brick exterior walls with nothing but air between the layers, so the dew point would form in the air cavity instead of inside the materials. It would stay dry and fresh because it was leaking air and heat from everywhere.

          7. Dude you can stop a brick house of the century or two old from being a leaky sieve for air really easily, as its nearly all in the loose drafty windows – the bulk of the building need not change. And the insulation value of the double skin brick wall with or without any insulation in the void is pretty damn good – usually works out better than the rather thin walled timber construction it seems.

            There are of course challenges to changing a house designed to be ventilated by the fire moving air up the chimney, to one that doesn’t have that passive breathability but its not hard to make it work as a building method. A rather large number of houses in the UK are still built in the same materials in almost exactly the same way, and a huge number of folks in the UK live in houses from the period with added insulation, new windows, removed chimney etc.

          8. >and a huge number of folks in the UK live in houses from the period with added insulation, new windows, removed chimney etc.

            I have family living there, and the general consensus is that the housing is terrible.

          9. Dude its definitely true some of the housing round here is terrible (but that will be true for every nation, there is always areas in need of redevelopment without the people with money available/interested in making it happen), and its certainly always terrible value for money compared to most if not all of Europe (from what I can see with a quick search and have read for years).

            But that doesn’t make the housing in general crap to live in, though frequently smaller.

            Some areas sadly do tend to be pretty bad quality wise too. There also seems to be a real problem with landlord accountability and maintenance for the renters. And some buildings are fantastically expensive even by UK house price standards (as WHERE matters rather hugely to price round here – very similar house to my parents house still inside the same city well inside walking distance from each other for instance and it probably doubles in value, and its not like they live in a shit hole neighbourhood, or next to a massively busier road or anything major like that)

          10. > its definitely true some of the housing round here is terrible

            I was talking specifically about the refitted houses. Even the hotel I was staying in had “indoor” plumbing which meant that the sewer pipe was punched out through the back wall into the inner courtyard and ran down the wall in a big maze with the pipes from all the other rooms. This was done obviously because you couldn’t find any room inside the building to build the sewers – can’t raise the floors up or build the walls thicker because it’s already too cramped. The chimney was blocked up with brick, so taking a shower would fog up all the windows – and the solution was to just keep the bathroom window open all the time.

            Proper building is not just a matter of adding double or triple glazed windows to an old brick house and calling it a day. When you disrupt how the house originally worked, it usually turns out badly.

          11. In case you’re wondering, the problem with the exposed sewers is that it’s a huge waste of energy both insulation-wise and the heat you lose with the water you pour into the pipes. It’s OK in the UK where it never really gets cold, but the Scandinavians would laugh at it and then ask where you gonna go for number two in the winter when the pipe is frozen.

            (Originally, in these houses you’d go to the communal toilet somewhere down the alley, and that was the case up to the 70’s.)

          12. The downpipe for toilet/bathroom waste are usually exposed down the side of buildings in the UK, even in new builds as it works perfectly well here. Not much a problem insulation wise the external pipe should be full of air 99% of the time with the water in ubends stoping any great airflow, and all water being dumped back to the waste water plant will carry heat with it – Doesn’t make a blind bit of difference where the pipes are for that only that the house its been in has warmed (or potentially cooled) it from the supply water temperature. Its a waste product that will carry whatever heat it happens to have when you dump it.

          13. >Not much a problem insulation wise

            That is the difference in standards and attitudes what makes a UK home cold in 0 degrees weather and a Swedish home warm at -30 C. The Swedes just don’t cut corners and call it good enough because they’d get icicles growing indoors, whereas in the UK you just bring in more heaters and endure.

          14. Its more we don’t get the conditions that require anything different – when indoor temps are comfortable at say 10-20 C and the outside is usually around -5 at the lowest point in the year, often in many areas not even below freezing (but yes some areas do get colder). The temperature gradient between outside and in is so small its just not relevant to make the down pipe differently, as its not cold enough outside to really make any odds. When the deltaT is 50C, or even more as it can be in other places you absolutely need to change the construction methods used but when you are talking maybe as much as 20 C, and usually less than that – on average it seems the UK as a whole only gets below 0C 11 days in a year (though trust that source I do not, that seems slightly too few days, I’d have thought 3 weeks gut feeling wise, as there are areas that I know do get and stay there well over 11 days most years, though as the south coast almost never gets there at all maybe its about right.)…

            When it comes to it here for instance we turn our heating on almost never, maybe 4 weeks total in the entire year it gets turned on at all, and usually only for a few hours. As the house is insulated enough the heat generated by living in it is more than sufficient for comfort, despite the fact its an old house. And the bathrooms are far from the coldest rooms, actually usually among the warmest, as the ones that are coldest are the ones with the really big windows on the north side of the house, to let in some of that usually half hearted sunshine, and they too stay perfectly comfortable most of the time…

            The only reason most houses in the UK that are bad are really bad on the insulation front is because whoever owns them hasn’t put in any money to improving them, its not difficult or even that expensive to really make a huge difference. Or the law says they can’t change those 200 year old single pane windows for something with some insulation value because its a listed building or some such nonsense that makes doing any improvements very challenging. There are always going to be some other reasons but on the whole most old UK houses have the potential to be perfectly well suited to the climate while needing little energy for it.

    3. Not to mention you need to compare apples to apples. If you are going to put the same plumbing, electrical, HVAC, windows, doors, roof, etc in a 3D printed home vs a stick built home, the only waste figure you should be comparing from the stick built house is framing, foundation, and siding. Those things are the most efficient things during the construction process. You can return unused lumber. You know exactly what joists & foundation block you need before you even start building. Vinyl siding can be done with very little waste.

      This article states “Some estimates put the amount of waste generated per square foot (0.09 m2) at around 3.9 lbs (1.8 kg)”, which includes the whole building process, and then states “Platform construction creates literal tons of waste and 3D-printed structures are printed with only what they need” which only includes the framing/foundation part of the process. I feel this is kind of disingenuous. The parts of construction that generate the most waste need to be done with both framing/foundation methods.

  2. I live in a house built in 1905 of about 1000sq ft.

    Compared to modern built houses, there are very few primary building materials used:

    Bricks, sand, cement, plaster, water, roofing slates.

    Sawn lumber, glass.

    The only pre-manufactured parts are wooden doors, doorframes and windows, probably purchased as standard sizes from the local carpenter’s shop.

    Iron and brass fittings, copper, lead and iron pipe.

    Houses, and life in general, was a lot simpler in 1905. Labour intensive but providing local labour. Mass manufactured products from factories were still in their infancy.

    Most towns in this area had clay pits and their own brick works, as bricks were expensive to transport any distance.

    By contrast, and the coming of the modern age, there’s a Sears Roebuck catalog reprint from 1926, advertising complete houses that could be mail ordered and assembled on site.

  3. 3d printed houses and all the crazy non-traditional shapes that process allows sounds fun to make.

    I’m not sure about actually living in it as rooms with curved walls are a pain to furnish. In urban environments where space is at a premium it’s pretty wasteful too. Once you make it practical to live in you are back to a box shape and a lot of the 3d printed advantage is going to go away.

    If you want to be environmentally friendly I’m thinking compressed earth bricks with an outer shell of aluminum siding to make it last in rainy environments is going to be hard to beat.

    Of course it still requires a lot of energy, especially refining aluminum but that’s just another reason to switch the grid to green sources.

    1. If a curved wall is wasteful or not depends on why the wall is curved – its a good way to get more volume for less material use, that missing corner might be a functional element of the design in some way – perhaps for passive airflow, or its just simply to have a better view/let more light in through the day.

      I’m sure there are some very cunning ideas that would be very comfortable to live in, maybe very ‘green’, and who knows what else that are going to be made buildable by the technology – in the same way plastic and metal additive manufacturing has really found a niche in so many places. as there are structures is nearly impossible to fabricate or make subtractively.

      That said I’m not sure 3d printed houses will ever really be practical. However 3d printed disaster recover buildings and the like certainly – slower than the temporary tent like methods of course, but able to create a more permanent and complete version of whatever structure is needed in its optimal shape from the same material…

        1. Only true for those architects that have anything to do with the construction.

          The ‘arteests’ are just different.

          More on point. There are old hippie, geodesic dome advocates that will explain why they were wrong for decades (with detailed examples). Can’t find the site anymore. The guy I’m thinking of built a dozen or more, before realizing ‘that was stupid’. I blame his ‘support network’ being too supportive and lock stepped in thinking (I said hippies).

          1. Also very worth pointing out I didn’t say Curved HOUSE, but Curved WALL, which is, in general only a small subset of the house. One or two curves for the right reasons are going to be a good thing, going crazy with the full on fibreglass UFO house just makes so much extra work for little gain.

            Although those fibreglass UFO’s actually had it seems really well thought out and intergrated everything you could actually need, highest of high tech stuff available for the era, and still look kinda practical now.

            I can see how a geodesic dome could be a good foundational concept for house, but only once you get into pretty large ones or the home of multiple occupancy stuff with lots of separate properties in the dome – the odd rounded wall/celing combo on the outer walls, likely made with translucent/transparent panes to let in lots of light, still shed rain/snow, and use minimal materials for the space created but with easier to furnish and live around squared off internal walls in many places.

            The big trouble with anything that isn’t square though isn’t being a good practical home/office/whatever but that it takes more crafting when everything isn’t even trying to be nice regular quadrilateral forms with those easy to make square corners – if you have the money/time and design skills a really practical useful house could probably be had in even the most awkward of shapes – to some extent that is proved with all the folks repurposing old ruins, indusrial buildings folly, boats, and even public toilets (etc) into functional spaces. But its so much more work and expense than a trip to IKEA.

          2. >before realizing ‘that was stupid’

            I think you’re referring to Lloyd Kahn.

            It’s very easy to recognize why a dome is silly by calculating the volume of a regular room-height box or a cylinder that you can fit inside it. There’s not actually a lot of useful volume inside a half-sphere, but I suppose you do get a lot of crawl-in storage space around the rim.

          3. > it takes more crafting when everything isn’t even trying to be nice regular quadrilateral forms

            When all the materials come in square sheets, you also end up with a ton of cut-off waste.

          4. How much cut off waste you get will depend hugely on the size of the dome – get it big enough and the curvature is lost inside the walls are never flat and square trimming to fit every building ends up requiring.

            Even at smaller more sensible sizes it can end up more that flat enough to be no extra waste as the curve still makes a good enough approximation of a straight line over the widths of normal furniture – the 1-2M straight edge of a standard off the shelf cupboard/table won’t leave much gap if the radius is sufficiently large, and in the case of geodesic dome its all made of flat sections that approximate a curve, so as long as those sections are say 2M wide they are likely as good as flat wall on that front. Clearly doesn’t make much sense once you get small though – biggest dome you could fit on any of the normal housing land plots around here…

            Also worth pointing out a fair few domes that have been built are either elongated vertically, sphere on cylinder, or actually flair out at the base so you get lots of extra space over what you would think with the footprint when assuming its just half a sphere.

  4. What are you missing? Stone and brick. The overheads May be high, but when the buildings last hundreds to thousands of years, that’s not such an issue. Build ‘em once and build ‘em well. Much better than adding to waste with short-lived almost-disposable buildings designed to fail.

    1. Sounds great to me. Just be sure to run really fat conduits through all the walls so that new wiring may be pulled through over the decades as technology changes without having to gut the inner walls.

  5. There’s a 3D printed house just down the road from where I work. Kind of unattractive exterior finish for what that’s worth. More conventional footprint than the one pictured above.

    I wasn’t aware of it until it was nearly complete. Wish I would have known about it earlier. Would have been interesting to watch it go up.

  6. Side Channel comment.
    I’m sure most of you saw a few years ago that video with all kinds of space saving furniture (e.g. desks that turn into beds, or desks, beds, chairs, and tables that fold into walls).
    So, where are they? It has been several years. It seems to me the Tiny House movement would have gobbled that stuff up, but I don’t see them “in the wild”.
    My guess is the owners of the patents are asking too much for licensing, or want to be the only $ource of the furniture.

    1. They’re costly to build well and tend to break when made cheaply. My guess is they last a few months then get thrown out. I built a crappy coffee table that the top lifts and slides so you can access the space inside. Not easy to do well with raw materials and hand tools. If I had spent a lot more money and time I might not be thinking about throwing it out now, then again, the top is heavier than the bottom. Every time you move the table top up, it wants to tip over. Maybe the stuff looks great when demonstrated in one particular use case, but is a failure in every other way. I got a few years out of my table, but mostly in the closed position.

      1. heh my grandpa bought the fancy multi-hinge mechanism for one of those, and built one that my grandma used daily for years. since he assembled everything except the hinge, he thought it through and used an appropriately stable/heavy base!

    1. Flat roofs and a concrete slab poured directly on the ground (fake foundation) ensure that a house gets water in from both sides. That was very popular for cheap construction from the 60’s onwards, until the houses started rotting.

      Even concrete and brick gets mold when there’s constant moisture.

  7. 3D printed houses are starting to feel like the flying car – a cyclical tech story about a feasible-yet-impractical thing that no-one really asked for.

    And unless you can 3D print in a material as sustainable as wood, all the other stuff (plumbing, wiring, plasterboard, interior & exterior finishes, HVAC) are still there and still having the same footprint.

    As someone else said, wasting a bit of wood is probably way more sustainable than a zero-waste 3D printed structure in concrete or some other exotic material that may be much less friendly.

    In fact – I find it very hard to believe a concrete printer would truly be zero waste as there’s a fair bit of waste in the process of starting / stopping / cleaning out any sort of concrete pump, truck, or other machinery.

  8. Why not build houses by piling rocks on top of other rocks? It worked for my mum’s house when they built it about 500 years ago. It’s a combination of stones dug out of the ground locally, bedded with the natural clay from the same holes. Almost zero ecological cost and has rather passed the test of time.
    (Extremely old web site, somewhat bitrottted since 1996, back when “thumbnail” meant literally that. )

    1. Lets weave reeds into a mat then cover it in mud for walls!

      Thatched roofs are best for the planet!

      You can insulate your cave with birds nests!

      On point: I have a cousin that lives in an ‘old town’ German house, with larger upper stories, cowshit walls etc. You don’t want to know what doing _anything_ costs. You could build a new house for the price of any simple renovation. Just another rich person flex. F’n billionaires.

      1. What’s with the ad-hominem?
        My point was that wood-framed housing is far from as universal as this article assumes. The overwhelming majority of houses in West Yorkshire, where I am from, are bu ilt from stone. Even the roofs. Sandstone on the older stuff, and slate on the newer victorian stuff. The last just about forever (which was why i mentioned my mum’s house) and the materials are biologically inert.
        Here is a typical West Yorks house, built for mill workers etc. (bearing in mind that UK house prices are very high)
        Admittdly my folks’ place is a bit special, but it was bought cheap (£40,000) and then we spent 20 years making it livable again. I mentioned that just as an example of how long such buildings can last.

  9. Looking through the comments and article, so so much ignorance. And this is clearly a big part of the problem. This is how people make buying and investment decisions… So much bad reasoning. You have to learn about the fundamentals, respect experts, respect the indispensable nature of actually trying and experimenting…. And a lot of the possibilities are not being pursued because they aren’t as profitable, for ip reasons, not because they don’t make sense from an engineering standpoint. People don’t realize this. This is why we don’t have nice things at reasonable prices.

Leave a Reply

Please be kind and respectful to help make the comments section excellent. (Comment Policy)

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.