Iowa Demolishes Its First 3D Printed House

It sounds like a headline from the future: the weekend before Thanksgiving, a bulldozer came for the first example of a printed home that was supposed to help the housing crisis in the city of Muscatine. Fortunately, it hadn’t been completed and sold yet.

Printing of this first house began in May 2023, and nine more were to be completed by the end of the year. Unfortunately, when tested for compressive strength, the cement mixture this first home was printed out of failed to meet the 5,000 PSI minimum required for the project. Rather than compromise on safety, the parties involved decided to knock it down and start over.

The goal now is to find out why the mixture, which met the strength requirements in laboratory testing, didn’t behave the same on-site. Currently, the plan is to start building the originally-planned second house in the spring, and begin construction on this first site after that.

The project is a collaborative effort between the Community Federation of Greater Muscatine (CFGM), Muscatine Community College, and Alquist 3D. Want to know more about the state of 3D printing when it comes to housing? Check out our handy guide.

Editors Note: The initial post initially indicated that the failed cement mixture contained hemp, but that has since found to be incorrect and the post has been edited accordingly.

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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.

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3D Printing Houses From Concrete

We’ve seen 3D-printed houses before, but most make use of prefabricated chunks. This hurricane and tornado resistant hotel suite in the Philippines was printed in one shot.

Sound familiar? This is the work of [Andrey Rudenko], who started by building a concrete 3D printer in his garage 2 years ago, moved on to 3D printing his kids a concrete castle in his backyard later that year and now appears to have a full-blown company offering commercial 3D printed houses. Way to go [Andrey]!

The building was designed in Sketchup no less, and the printer makes use of Pronterface for the control software. It’s absolutely fascinating to see this built at full-scale. We want one. Continue reading “3D Printing Houses From Concrete”

Enormous Delta-bot 3D Designed To Print An Entire House

[Massimo Moretti] has a big idea – to build housing on the cheap from locally sourced materials for a burgeoning world population. He also has a background in 3D printing, and he’s brought the two concepts together by building a 12 meter tall delta-bot that can print a house from clay.

The printer, dubbed Big Delta for obvious reasons, was unveiled in a sort of Burning Man festival last weekend in Massa Lombarda, Italy, near the headquarters of [Moretti]’s WASProject. From the Italian-language video after the break, we can see that Big Delta moves an extruder for locally sourced clay over a print area of about 20 square meters. A video that was previously posted on WASProject’s web site showed the printer in action with clay during the festival, but it appears to have been taken down by the copyright holder. Still, another video of a smaller version of Big Delta shows that clay can be extruded into durable structures, so scaling up to full-sized dwellings should be feasible with the 4 meter delta’s big brother.

Clay extrusion is not the only medium for 3D printed houses, so we’ll reserve judgment on Big Delta until we’ve seen it print a livable structure. If it does, the possibilities are endless – imagine adding another axis to the Big Delta by having it wheel itself around a site to print an entire village.

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3d printed house in china

3D Printing Homes In Less Than 24 Hours Using Recycled Materials

While many 3D printer companies are racing towards smaller and smaller accurate printers, a company in China called the Shanghai WinSun Decoration Design Engineering Company is experimenting with a monstrous 3D printer the size of half of an Olympic sized swimming pool.

The mammoth of a printer measures 32m by 10m by 6.6m and can print 200sqf detached single story homes. The printer uses FDM technology and deposits a mixture of cement and construction waste to build the walls. According to the company, it can cost less than $5000 a house, and the printer can spit out 10 houses a day!

The printer was designed a few years ago, and WinSun purchased the parts for it from overseas, and then had it assembled in a factory in Suzhou. They plan to print an entire villa of these homes, and to start building recycling facilities in China to collect material for use in the printer. The first home for sale will be located in Qingdao.

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