Is 3D printing the future of homebuilding?
If you thought 3D printing a fully-functioning electric vehicle in two days was fast, brace yourselves: one Chinese company has built an entire two-story villa in less than three hours. Hours! Ask anyone who has ever constructed or renovated a home and they will tell you that the dragged-out process can take anywhere from weeks to months, maybe even years. Not for long.
The Zhuoda Group’s revolutionary abode popped up in Xian, China and is comprised of six individually 3D-printed modules (living room, kitchen, bedroom and so forth) interlocked together like a series of LEGO blocks. The company completed approximately 90% of the construction in an off-site factory before shipping the pieces to its final resting ground, where some people were on hand to witness the last installation steps.
While construction of the villa took roughly three hours to complete, the entire project calls for roughly 10 days from start to finish. Yet, when compared to the typical six months required for traditional means of construction, that’s nothing. This efficient and timesaving process dramatically reduces construction costs to anywhere between $400-$480 (2,500-3,000 yuan) per square meter, which equates to approximately $81,000-$96,000 in total — a price that’ll surely drop as 3D printing continues to get cheaper.
Made out of secret materials, the modular house with a steel-framed structure is not only fireproof, but given its region’s susceptibility to earthquakes, has been designed to withstand the shaking of a magnitude-9 event. The Zhuoda Group has filed more than 22 patents for their next-gen technology and is keeping their top-secret material under wraps for now; however, the company’s vice president Tan BuYong has revealed that the new filament is sourced from industrial and agricultural waste and is free from harmful substances including formaldehyde, ammonia and radon.
After the structural framework was 3D-printed, the company applied decorative sheet textures to each module before final assembly. Homeowners will be able to choose from a variety of decorative textures, like wood and granite, and health-conscious folks can even embed herbs into the walls of the house for ‘built-in aromatherapy.’ The building is expected to last, even with normal wear and tear, for at least 150 years.
While this isn’t the first time a structure has been 3D-printed, it is definitely one of the most impressive. Earlier this year, a company in China developed a 3D-printed mansion and apartment, while another firm is currently working on the world’s first fully 3D-printed office. Safe to say, the future of additive manufacturing has arrived!