Rome Wasn't Built In A Day But 3D Printers Can Do The Job
With the global population being pegged at 7.4 billion, it is expected to grow by 1.1 per cent every year. As more than 100 million people across the world are homeless, the United Nation estimates that by 2030 an additional three billion people will need access to housing.
Owing fast-growing population, there is a dire need to accommodate these homeless by constructing as many houses. Thankfully, in this new-age of automation, we have witnessed unprecedented innovations which are straight out of any science fiction. In an effort to reduce human labour, optimise energy and save on construction time, several architects and engineers around the world have come up with 3D printing technologies to build an entire structure or its components in a short time. A 3D printing technology is an additive process wherein an object is created by laying down successive layers of material until the entire object is created using a computer.
Following are the 3D house printers which are changing the way we construct any building.
Dr. Behrokh Khoshnevis of University of South California has come up with the contour crafting (CC) technology which has the potential to automatically construct a house or a cluster of houses in a single run. All the electronic circuits, plumbing material and air-conditioning equipment is embedded into a structure at the time of construction. This technology fabricates a house layer by layer, pouring fast-drying concrete, topped off by floors and then the ceiling. Khoshnevis was inspired to develop a rapid construction technique as a way to rehabilitate people affected by natural disasters in his home country Iran.
The word Kamer Maker in Dutch means 'room maker'. Kamer Maker is a collaborative effort by DUS Architects, Ultimaker and Fablab Protospace. The printer is a 3.5-metre-tall movable pavilion which constructs on-demand architecture and responds to customized needs. The printer is designed not only to build an entire house but also to construct it in a modular fashion. Each room of the house is printed separately on site and then assembled into connected floors. These floors are then stacked to create a house. The structure of the house is scripted into computer codes which allows the creation of complex and customized designs. The Kamer Maker is printing a canal house in Amsterdam.
This Shanghai-based company surprised the world by printing ten houses in just 24 hours. The 3D printer developed by the company uses a mixture of industrial waste such as glass, concrete, fiberglass tailings on a base of quick-drying cement. The printer is 6.6 metres high, 10 metres wide and 40 metres long. A computer-aided design (CAD) is used as a template and the printer uses its extruder arm to spread material, much like how a baker would ice a cake. Components of the buildings are printed off site and then pieced together. Steel columns and bars are used to reinforce the walls and add structural integrity. This company has also managed to print an entire apartment building comprising six storeys and a villa. WinSun says that its structures are earthquake-resistant, flexible and self-insulating.
Bigdelta WASP 3D
Developed by World Advanced Saving Project (WASP), this 3D printer is four metres tall and can print reinforced concrete beams. The 3D printing allows one to create curved hollow spaces inside the design thereby reducing the cost and pressure on environment. The WASP noted that with the use of the new technology, they were able to cut down carbon emissions by 50 per cent. The goal of the company is to deliver affordable housing in the Third World countries.
Zhouda Group printed a 3D house in China's Xi'an in just three hours. The building is comprised of six modules which were fabricated ahead of time. The printer considerably reduces the construction time from six months to ten days. The villa, which is built on a steel frame, is expected to withstand strong earthquakes. The group printed six modules, including a bathroom, a living room, a kitchen, etc. all out of industrial and agricultural waste. The company has filed 22 patents for the material and process used in the construction process. The group has signed as many as 40 contracts with the local government for housing projects.