Are 3D printed houses the future?_

Back in July 2018, we heard of a family in France becoming the first in the world to move into a 3D-printed house. Their four-bedroom property was the prototype for bigger projects to come, aiming to make housebuilding quicker and cheaper.

The original 3D printed house took just 54 hours to print; with four more months for contractors to add in things such as windows, doors and the roof. The whole project costed approximately £176,000 to build – making it 20% cheaper than an identical construction using traditional methods.

Eindhoven University of Technology has been a pioneer in 3D printing using concrete. Last year the south-eastern town of Gemert opened the world’s first 3D-printed cycle bridge, which had been made at the university.

The University are now set to team up with Dutch construction company Van Wijnen, to use the same method as a solution to the shortage of skilled bricklayers in the Netherlands. Rudy van Gurp, a manager at Van Wijnen, told CNN. “3D printing makes things quicker, better, cheaper and more sustainable by using less material. It also fosters creativity and freedom in the design.”

Located in the Dutch city of Eindhoven, will be the first site of houses – known as Project Milestone and will be a site of five habitable homes made by a 3D printer. The 3D printer used to build these houses is essentially a large robotic arm with a nozzle that squirts out a specially formulated cement. The cement is then “printed” according to an architect’s design. Adding layer upon layer to create a wall and increase its strength.

The use of 3D printing could potentially increase the rate of production and reduce labour cost and human errors. The method will also cut costs and environmental damage by reducing the amount of cement that is used.

“It will eventually be cheaper than the traditional methods. Bricklaying is becoming more and more expensive. Alongside, bricks and the use of timber, this will be a third way, which will look like stucco [plastered] houses, which people like.”

Van Gurp said he believed that the use of 3D printers in the construction of homes would be “mainstream” within five years.

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