Full-Sized Houses Latest in 3D Printing

3D-printed houses are on cutting edge of technology.

One of the most ambitious projects in the rapidly developing world of 3D printing is a 3D-printed house. According to BBC News:

Architects in Amsterdam have started building what they say is one of the world’s first full-sized 3D-printed houses. The structure is being built using a plastic heavily based on plant oil. The team behind the house claims it is a waste-free, eco-friendly way to design and construct the cities of the future.

The parts of the 3D-Print Canal House are printed on a giant KamerMaker printing pavilion. This moveable printer, developed specifically for this project, works inside a large shipping container, which makes it easier to transport the technology. Here is how Colin Grant of the BBC describes the process:

Using different types of plastics and wood fibres, the device takes computer-drawn plans and uses them to make first the building’s exterior walls, then the ceilings and other parts of individual rooms and then finally its furniture. The pieces will be assembled on site like a huge jigsaw with parts attached to each other thanks to some of their edges having being shaped like giant Lego pieces, and the use of steel cabling to ‘sew’ the elements together.

The Canal House will be built from the bottom up. The architects from Dus Architects expect to complete the fully printed façade of the building by the end of this year. The building site is open to public, if you happen to be in Amsterdam (Tuesday-Friday and every first weekend). There also is an exposition in the Rijksmuseum, which was visited by President Obama.

The Macromelt bioplastic material used for 3D-printed house (developed by Henkel) is sustainable and renewable. It is 80% vegetable oil and melts at 170 degrees Celsius. The possibilities of printing with wood pallets, stone waste, and recycled plastic are being researched as well. Overall the whole project is a proof-of-concept experiment to demonstrate the possibilities of 3D-printing and its potential to revolutionize the construction industry.

More Printed Houses

Meanwhile, shed-like houses are being 3D-printed from cement and glass fiber material in China. What they lack in sophistication of design is made up for by speed: 10 houses were printed less than 24 hours. The windowless houses contain a glass wall for light. Similar speed and results were achieved with fiber-reinforced cement using Contour Crafting, a novel extruder mechanism method developed and tested at the University of South California to produce cost-efficient habitats.

Three-dimensional printing is opening new horizons for architects with the possibility of many unusual shapes, including one inspired by a Möbius strip, i.e., a surface with only one side. In this concept house, the floor becomes a ceiling and becomes the floor again. The Landscape House is projected to be printed from sand and inorganic binder using D-Shape printer, which basically creates sandstone using stereolithography 3D printing. The resulting stone is marble-like (it has a microcrystalline structure), and appeared to be stronger than Portland cement after traction, compression and bending tests. The stone formation takes 24 hours, and unsolidified extra sand can be removed, as shown in the video below, and reused.

What will be inside the 3D-printed houses? Will it be 3D-printed furniture? Possibly — it doesn’t necessarily have to be made entirely of plastic, but 3D-printed plastic parts can connect wooden panels without screws, nuts and bolts. Maybe 3D-printed carpets will complete the design, because materials such as yarn and natural fibers can now be 3D-printed too, using a yarn printer by Carnegie Mellon University and Disney. By the time the houses are ready to be furnished, maybe the technology will have caught up. The mood can be completed with music played from 3D-printed records … but, at least the people won’t be printed. Yet?

Image by Forgemind ArchiMedia.
Video: “On Location 3D Print Your House,” by sciandtechvideos, YouTube, September 29, 2013.
Source: “How Dutch Team Is 3D-Printing a Full-Sized House,” BBC.com, May 3, 2014.
Source: “3D-Printed Canal Home Takes Shape in Amsterdam,” by Colin Grant, BBC.com, April 15, 2014.
Source: “U.S. President Obama Views 3D Print Canal House,” amsterdamsmartcity.com, March 27, 2014.
Source: “3D Printed Houses Built in Shanghai From Fiber Reinforced Cement,” by Lloyd Alter, treehugger.com, April 7, 2014.
Source: “More Detail on Those Chinese 3D-Printed Houses,” by Lloyd Alter, treehugger.com, April 24, 2014.
Source: “University of Southern California and the Realization of 3D Printed Houses,” by Michael Mulitch-Hou, 3dprintingindustry.com, September 30, 2014.
Source: “How to Make 3D House Printing Accessible?” by Michael Mulitch-Hou, 3dprintingindustry.com, April 28, 2014.
Source: “The 3D-Printed House?! A Dutch Architect and Mathematician Break the Mold,” by Kharunya Paramaguru, time.com, January 27, 2013.
Source: D-shape, d-shape.com.
Source: Landscape House, universearchitecture.com.
Source: “A Team-Up We’d Love to See: IKEA & Minale-Maeda, Yielding Partially-Downloadable and 3D-Printable Furniture Designs,” by Rain Noe, core77.com, April 29, 2014.
Source: “A Soft-Materials 3D Printer From Carnegie Mellon and Disney,” by Christie Nicholson, core.77.com, April 30, 2014.