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3D Printed Houses: The Way Forward for Real Estate?

Former US President, Barack Obama, in his presidential address back in 2013 said that “3D Printing has the potential to revolutionize the way we make almost everything.” Six years down the line and this innovative technology has already changed the way we look at manufacturing. Whether it is space engines or organ transplants, the technology has crept into each and every dimension of our world. The biggest revolution that the technology has brought, however, is in the real estate sector.

With the Dubai government declaring that 25% of its buildings will be 3D printed by 2030, the technology has already begun to transform the construction sector. The ease of building, the comparatively lower costs, the low labour requirements and the ability to create almost any design have made it the favourite for house dwellers.

Construction and 3D Printing

Houses take forever to build. There is a huge amount of time, labour and patience required. But not with 3D Printing! Winsun, the company that built the first-ever 3D Printed house, printed 10 houses in just 24 hours in 2013 and since the entire process is automated, no manpower was required for building. However, since 3D printing is a kind of additive manufacturing, it can only build walls that later have to be assembled by human labour. The roof, windows, and doors are also to be added manually.

The process of 3D Printed construction is the same as normal 3D Printing. You first need to create a 3D model of your house. Then you have to break it down into parts. Then, these parts have to be sliced into layers using slicing software. Now, these sliced models are sent to the 3D Printer in the form of G-Codes.

Once the model is sent to the printer, load the construction material (concrete, mud or clay) into the material cartridge. Now give the “Print” command and your house will start to print, layer by layer, from bottom to top. After the construction is completed, the house has to be furnished with roof, windows, and doors. The 3D printed house is similar to any other house and is totally livable.

Impact of 3D Printing on the Real Estate Industry

3D Printing is revolutionizing the Real Estate Industry in a number of ways. With the World’s Advanced Saving Project (WASP) building a “Technology Village” with 3D printed houses, the real estate sector has begun to embrace this technology.  Ease of operation, lower time consumption, and cost-effectiveness are just a few perks. Here we have discussed each and every single one of its benefits, in the real estate sector, in detail:

  • Cost-Effective: According to experts, 3D printed houses reduce the construction cost by about 20%. There are a number of reasons supporting this argument. Firstly, building a 3D printed house saves from wastage of material during construction. Then, it also cuts down the labour costs as 3D printing is an automated process. Thus, it is a great way to achieve the goal of affordable housing for all.
  • Lower Labour Requirements: Since 3D printing is a machine-based process, there is no manpower required for building the house. The labour is required only for the post-construction processes like adding windows and doors, painting, etc. Thus, 3D printing a house lowers the labour requirement significantly.
  • Reduces Time Consumption: 3D printed houses take a few weeks to build, unlike the traditional construction that takes months, if not years to build. Thus it meets the instant housing requirements. It is a great way to meet the housing requirements of those individuals whose job requires them to move to new places on a regular basis.
  • Customizable: Since 3D printing houses are based upon the phenomena of additive manufacturing, you can create any design or look for your house and it will still be constructed at the same time without increasing the cost or material requirements. Even if you want to live in a spiral-shaped house, it is possible with 3D printing. The technology brings a great amount of precision and detailing to the construction process.
  • Sustainability: 3D printed houses are highly sustainable and come with thermal resistance and disaster resilience. This is due to the fact that the houses are made up of solid layers of material. The solid layers have greater strength as compared to bricked walls. This enhances the overall strength of the structure and makes the house highly sustainable.
  • Ecofriendly: 3D printed houses can even be built with recycled material. They, therefore, help in waste management. These houses, therefore, prove to be a great solution to the global housing crisis in an environment-friendly manner.

With so many benefits the technology has been winning hearts in the real estate sector for a long time. People have now started to employ 3D Printers to build their houses. The application of 3D Printers is almost entering at every important sector. The houses are totally livable. They are similar to normal houses with just enhanced strength and improved style. However, 3D printing is not yet fully developed to be employed in the construction business on a regular basis. There are some limitations to it. For instance, until now we can only build walls using 3D printing. The roofs, floors, windows, and doors are to be added manually. Also, the technology is restricted to small buildings. 3D printing cannot be used to create big buildings.

Looking at the pace at which the technology is getting developed, it is believed that it will not take much time to overcome these flaws and fully take over the real estate sector.

Can We Say That 3D Printing is the Future of Building?

Despite its limitations, 3d printing proves to be a promising solution to the global housing requirements. The low labour requirements, instant construction, and reduced cost are just a few benefits to name. 3d printed houses are not just livable but they also come with improved strength and sleek designs. Even though the technology today has certain limitations like the inability to add roofs and windows, it is believed that the day is not far when this innovative technology will overcome these shortcomings and surpass the traditional construction to completely take over the housing industry.

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