By: Nick Gambino
3D printers are now doing more than just popping out little simple objects that sit on your desk and collect dust. We’re seeing 3D-printed cars, pizzas, robots and even artificial limbs. Determined to raise the bar in Houston, Texas, they just 3D printed the first two-story house in the U.S.
“You can actually find a lot of 3D-printed buildings in many states,” the designer of the innovative home, Leslie Lok, told Reuters. “One of the things about printing a second story is you require, you know, the machine. And of course, there are other challenges: structural challenges, logistic challenges when we print a second-story building.”
Of course a printing job of this magnitude takes a big printer. The one they’re using for this one-of-a-kind construction job weighs over 12 tons. If you know anything about 3D printers they don’t typically work with just one piece of material, like say, plastic. The real heavy-duty 3D printers can handle a lot more.
Specifically, this gigantic 3D printer in Houston is pumping out layers of concrete, as that’s the basic building block for…well, building houses and buildings. It’s working pretty consistently as it builds the eventual 4,000-square-foot home, layer by layer. At its current rate the workhorse 3D printer is looking to pump out all the necessary concrete material in just 300 hours.
The idea, just like the invention of any machine, is to make the job easier and require less labor and man hours. On this current project they have a small crew on site but nowhere near the number of construction workers that would usually be there for a concrete pour.
In addition to revolutionizing the time factor and man hours necessary to bring any home-building project to completion, the team behind this 3D printing application also hopes to make more robust and resilient houses that can stand up to natural disasters.
For now, they’re taking their time to get it right, but if this project in Houston proves successful, I’m sure we’ll start seeing a lot more houses being printed to order in the near future.