WHY THIS MATTERS IN BRIEF
3D printed homes are faster and cheaper to build than traditional homes, and this tech’s starting to go mainstream.
3D printed buildings, that can be constructed up to 90 percent faster and cheaper than those made using traditional building techniques, are taking off everywhere with new communities, futuristic space habitats, and even government buildings being printed in lots of different countries now – there are even plans to 3D print a giant 11 storey skyscraper in the works in, where else, Dubai.
Now, trying to make the trend mainstream after the US’s largest house builder Lennar partnered with ICON to print future communities, 3D printing company Alquist has said that it will build 200 homes around southwest Virginia and will kick off the project this week with a demonstration in Pulaski near the site of its first two 3D printed homes.
‘Project Virginia’ follows Alquist’s recent Habitat for Humanity project in Williamsburg, Virginia, which it said is the first owner occupied 3D printed home in the world – even though that honour actually goes to a French couple who bought their own 3D printed house in France a couple of years back now.
Alquist, which uses Black Buffalo 3D’s Nexcon printer, said that its mission is to solve the housing crisis in rural and underserved areas of America. It wants to lower the cost of housing and infrastructure in economically distressed and under-served communities.
Alquist chose Pulaski because demand for housing is soaring there thanks to the more than 3,000 new jobs that Volvo, Blue Star Manufacturing, and American Glove Innovations will create in the area. Also, Virginia’s New River Valley was recently identified as having one of the highest growth rates in the nation for tech jobs in the US.
“With migration patterns shifting due to pandemic, climate, and economic concerns, smaller communities like Pulaski have a huge need – and an amazing opportunity – to develop affordable housing for new residents,” said Zachary Mannheimer, founder and CEO of Alquist 3D. “By 3D-printing these homes, Alquist and our partners will be accelerating Pulaski and Roanoke’s ability to harness current trends and attract new workers to this wonderful community in southwestern Virginia.”
Printing a house is just like printing on paper, only supersized, said Alquist. The ‘ink’ is reinforced concrete, which is layered one row at a time as a home’s exterior walls are printed.
3D printed walls can be built in days instead of weeks, it said. It took only about 22 hours to print the exterior shell of the three bedroom, two bathroom home that Alquist built for Habitat for Humanity. 3D printing also enables builders to use less timber, which it said is a huge benefit since availability and prices have been highly volatile.