Most homes are built block by block, brick by brick, or board by board. But this model house in Calverton, New York, was constructed scan by scan. Its walls were made using a giant 3-D printer that squeezes out concrete.
There are other 3-D printed houses around the world, but most are tiny, meant to be experimental or low-cost housing. This house, though, has three bedrooms and two bathrooms. Plenty of room for an average-sized family to call home!
SQ4D, the construction firm that made the house, had to design and build its own 3-D printer. “We took the idea of a plastic 3-D desktop printer and wanted to make it much larger and spit out concrete,” says Kirk Andersen. He is the director of operations for SQ4D.
Andersen and his team constructed tracks for the giant printer on each side of where they planned to build . . . or, print. They set up a large gantry (overhead structure that supports the printer). The printer goes back and forth, extruding a layer at a time. The layers stack up into walls.
Andersen points out the concrete scan lines on the walls with pride. “People like to see the lines. It’s unique. It’s got some character,” he says. But home buyers can also request different finishes, like stucco or drywall.
The printing time for the walls took about 48 hours, part of an eight-day process to build the entire home. Andersen says that the process is much quicker, and cheaper, than building a home using standard construction methods. And less human labor is needed. The 3-D method saves about 30% in total construction cost over a traditionally constructed concrete home. “Everyone loves to save 30% on your everyday things,” says Andersen. “We can save you it on a house.”
Another advantage? The strong concrete walls help the house withstand hurricanes, floods, and mold. In Matthew 7:24-27, Jesus tells a parable about building on a firm foundation. That’s important not only for houses but for life.
The next step is building a house that someone will buy and live in. SQ4D has on the market a to-be-built house in Riverhead, New York. At 1,400 square feet, the house is currently priced at $299,000. The footings, foundation, slab, and walls will be made entirely with the 3-D printer.
The new process has garnered mixed feelings from the construction and real estate community. Some aren’t ready to discard traditional methods. But Andersen is convinced that 3-D printing is the future of the industry.