Is 3D printing the Future of U.S. Home Construction?
Learning Tools Chinese construction workers are using 3D printing to save on building costs—and, in turn, save homeowners big bucks. Here’s how.
3D printing has been used to create everything from car parts to fashion accessories to artificial organs for human beings suffering from ailments.
Now, construction workers in China are using the technology—which implements a 3D scanner and replicates real objects using layered material—to save on home building costs. Only last month, the industry was abuzz after 3D printing company ZhuoDa Group created a home using the method, which is also referred to as additive layering in some western countries.
Changing the game
As technology analysis site VR World reported when news broke about ZhouDa Group’s game-changing feat, because 3D printing can now be used to facilitate the process of home building, it has the potential to transform the construction industry as a whole. This is especially true in places like Europe and China, where homes are made primarily of bricks, concrete and reinforced concrete.
"Manufacturing rather than physically building a home with manpower has the potential to save Americans more than mere thousands of dollars—not to mention time."
Unlike in North America, where construction workers typically use wood and steel to build homes, workers in Europe and Asia are at the whims of the weather with concrete, which takes more time to dry out and can become destroyed if exposed to rain during the construction process. Not to mention, building a home using traditional methods can take upwards of four months no matter the continent, according to VR World.
The website also notes that the material used in ZhouDa Group’s 3D-printed homes is sturdy—enduring earthquake tremors up to 9.0 as well as being resilient to natural disasters as well as vermin. The potential cost savings, however, is the factor that has the most potential to change the construction industry as well as hopeful homeowners’ aspirations, including those in the United States.
VR World notes that construction starts alone in 2014 were valued at about $564 billion—and in China, the domestic market is estimated at about $2.3 trillion. The cost difference of 3D-printing a home rather than building it the old-fashioned way is difficult to pinpoint, as construction costs per square foot vary from continent to continent. But, Tan BuYong, vice president of ZhouDa Group, told VR World that for 3D printed homes in China, the cost per square meter is 3,000 RMB, or 434 Euro, or $44.75 per square foot. The company said it is also aiming to reduce building costs by 10 percent over the next two years.
Saving time and money
All things considered, if 3D printing were to take hold in the U.S., manufacturing rather than physically building a home with manpower has the potential to save Americans more than mere thousands of dollars—not to mention time. VR World noted creating a home using the technology can be accomplished in three hours.