Houses Hot Off the 3D Printer

Article By Ilyce R. Glink February 11, 2015 9:30 PM Spaces. Released on Yahoo, 13 Feb 15 and shared with the public via tumbir, Facebook, twitter and email.

3D Printer HouseRobotic building by Contour Crafting won the grand prize in a NASA magazine’s Create the Future contest.

In the not-too-distant future, building a new home may be as simple as printing it out.

The process of wielding 3D printers to make homes is in its infancy today, but someday soon you may look out your window at a large-scale printer, swiftly spitting out a whole home under the instruction of just one operator.

“Generally, they’ll be much cheaper, much faster, much safer and with much nicer architectural features [than traditional homes],” says Dr. Behrokh Khoshnevis, creator of and lead researcher for Contour Crafting, one of the leading companies working on scaling 3D-printed homes for the masses.

A 3D printer from the WASP
roject (which stands for World’s Advanced Saving Project) builds walls at the Maker Faire …

It’s really not as crazy as it sounds. There are 3D printers making dishes, building furniture and repairing appliances right now. But a home needs a much bigger printer.

On any scale, 3D printing works like this: Someone creates a three-dimensional digital design and sends
it to the printer, where it’s translated into something called a “G-code” file that slices a 3D design into thin layers.

The printer also contains the building material, which in the case of large-scale printing can be plastic or cement – any sturdy material that can go from solid to liquid and back again. The material is melted or liquefied within the printer, and layer b
y layer the printer follows a path until the object in the 3D digital design is completely constructed. The layers build upon one another and solidify as they cool.

Using this kind of technology for home construction may be a few years out, but it’s already in use in a few select projects around the world, from an artistic, design-driven canal house n Amsterdam to a utilitarian operation that can churn out a house in just one day in China.

Still, a lot of details have to  worked out before this technology is launched on a large scale. Factors like fireproofing, insulation and waterproofing are still in testing stages for many projects.

And in most cases, no building codes regulate the materials and construction processes used to print buildings, nor are there industry standards or best practices yet that builders can rely on. Every element — printers, software, building materials — is evolving.

Article originally released on Yahoo, 2/13/2015 By Ilyce R. Glink February 11, 2015 9:30 PM Spaces. And listed as shared with the general public via the following method: