Dutch Group Set To Begin Construction Of World's First Habitable 3D-Printed Homes

An artistic depiction of what the five completed homes will look like. Houben/Van Mierlo architecten

Aliyah Kovner 06 Jun 2018, 22:45

3D printing is on track to fundamentally alter how products from nearly every category are manufactured. From toys and trinkets to jet engines and medical devices (and perhaps even lab-grown body parts), the continually evolving process has proved to be so insanely adaptable – while still being cost-effective – that many are hailing its widespread adoption as the second Industrial Revolution.

Following this progression, Eindhoven, a city in the south of the Netherlands, has announced their plan to construct and sell five family houses composed of 3D printed concrete. The project’s collaborators – the municipality of Eindhoven, an engineering firm, a materials company, a contractor, a real estate manager, and the concrete printing experts at the Eindhoven University of Technology – see the undertaking as the first real-world step toward developing a working model of high-quality, customizable, and incredibly eco-friendly home building.

The team's automated printer arm spurts out thin layers of specially formulated concrete – said to have the texture of whipped cream – that curve and stack following a precise programmed blueprint. The process takes considerably less concrete than traditional molds. Photo credit Project Milestone, Eindhoven.

“3D-printing of concrete is a potential game changer in the building industry. Besides the ability to construct almost any shape, it also enables architects to design very fine concrete structures,” the university team said in a statement.

“Also it becomes easy to incorporate individual wishes for every single house, at minimum extra costs. Another important advantage is sustainability, as much less concrete is needed and hence much less cement, which reduces the CO2 emissions originating from cement production.”

Titled “Project Milestone”, the ambitious venture is set to begin construction on the initial home later this year, in a wooded area in the city's Meerhoven district. The lucky buyers of the three-bedroom, one-story house (the real estate agents have already received more than 20 applications) should be able to move in during the first half of 2019.

The team intends to create only the outside and inside walls using printed concrete this time around, yet they note that the homes will be built consecutively so that lessons learned during the research and experimentation-filled process of constructing each can be applied to the subsequent structures. This will allow more and more components of later homes, which are slated to be multiple stories tall, to be formed out of the concrete.

For now, the printing itself will take place inside the Eindhoven University of Technology lab, under the watchful eye of the technique’s developer, professor Theo Salet. By the time the fifth house is set for construction, the team aims to have the entire process performed on site.

Last year, Theo Salet and his staff completed the world’s first 3D printed concrete bridge in nearby Gemert. The structure, which connects two roads by spanning a small waterway, is meant for cyclists but strong enough to safely bear loads up to 2 tonnes (8,810 pounds).

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