3D Printing

America’s first 3D printed houses

The U.S may soon have 3D printed homes, and a new partnership are claiming they will be created in just one day. Construction company Sunconomy have teamed up with Russian 3D printers Apis Cor and their 3D concrete printer and realize this ambition. Larry Haines, founder of Sunconomy, wants the public to join them on a “revolutionary journey to build affordable, smart, sustainable housing with Apis Cor’s new 3D concrete printer“. Sunconomy are currently crowd-funding for this project with a goal of over $500,000.

Gif shows the Apis Cor printer in action as it constructs model of a house. Gif via Apis Cor.

The Machine

Apis Cor’s machine (pictured above) only consumes eight kilowatts of energy while constructing and as it involves additive manufacturing it produces little-to-no waste. The machine is designed to be portable in that it can be transported in the back of a truck to and from sites. While it does not have any rails to move around while printing, the machine is able to print these small designs with ease and means no additional rails need to be assembled prior to printing. The printer operates in a maximum operation area of 132 m² and can be set up in just thirty minutes.

Sunconomy's Plan A design. Image via Sunconomy
Sunconomy’s Plan A design. Image via Sunconomy

Sunconomy do not just want to just build houses though, their aim is to use these houses to teach others about the importance of sustainability. For Sunconomy, “this isn’t just about building four walls and a roof” and the company believe that as greater numbers of people are living in poverty across both America and the world construction in this manner could be a solution. Haines and the team behind Sunconomy are hoping for a revolution in construction and their first step is printing these two prototypes. The next, even more ambitious phase, is to build over 100 affordable homes set within a 21-acre ‘Eco-village’. Sunconomy also wishes to provide jobs with these houses by training workers in how to build more sustainable 3D printed houses and cities.

Why are they using 3D printing?

According to Sunconomy they have chosen 3D printing as their method to meet their aims because it provides:

  • Affordability, with less waste
  • Super strong housing (can resist winds of up to 220 MPH)
  • Net Zero energy consumption (meaning the amount of energy used is equal to amount produced)
  • Water through rain water catchment
  • The use of natural materials
  • Compatibility with IoT (Internet of Things) devices
  • Lower insurance costs with the use of materials that lower risk of major hazards such as fire or roof damage
Sunconomy's Plan B design. Image via Sunconomy.
Sunconomy’s Plan B design. Image via Sunconomy.

Using this brand new technology (3D printing) along with advancements in material science and insulation, we can build a house in a day that could stand up to a EF5 tornado, generate its own power and portable water, last hundreds of years and be as affordable as a stick built house

Despite this, perhaps the plans of Sunconomy have to be grandiose in order to spark as much interest as possible and encourage investment. It’s not too unrealistic to envisage 3D printing playing a large part in the way houses are constructed in the future and perhaps the technology could be combined with the use of 3D scanning in order to improve designs and customize the buildings.

Featured image of the Apis Cor 3D printer. Image via Apis Cor.