A Dutch couple recently moved into Europe’s first fully inhabitable 3D-printed home, a two-bedroom bungalow in Eindhoven.
Although there is obviously an enormous element of novelty attached to this story, the most interesting part is the house was completed using a cutting-edge designbuild process that developers say can be completed in just five days from start to finish.
This construction, a collaboration between the local authority, Eindhoven’s Technical University and several construction companies, is made up of 24 concrete elements ‘printed’ by a machine. Layers of concrete with a consistency like toothpaste were then ‘squirted’ over the different parts to bond them together and the hollow elements were filled with insulation before the house was completed by adding its roof.
The partnership now plans to build a further five houses to perfect the process and learn the lessons that will allow them to move on to houses with as many as three floors.
While this house is very much a prototype with several imperfections clearly visible, the Dutch government and other interested parties are starting to explore whether 3D printing construction could offer a solution to the chronic housing shortage being experienced in The Netherlands and many other European countries.
A representative of Eindhoven’s Technical University was quick to admit that although 3D printing can be used to speed up the construction process by digitising the design and production of houses, it will not be the answer to building “one million houses”. There will, however, be an option to “use this technology as part of other houses combined with wooden structures and other materials.”
This view is supported by the recent history of 3D printing construction.
Over the last two years properties partly constructed by 3D printing have been built in France and the US and similar projects are being launched in other countries around the world. The reason the Dutch house has made so many headlines is that it is the first fully inhabitable house to pass all local building regulations to be made exclusively from 3D printed parts.
However, aside from the speed of the build, 3D printing also offers huge environmental benefits.
3D printed houses will use 30% less materials (most specifically concrete) than traditional houses. This immediately makes them a more sustainable, particularly as the printing process will only produce the exact quantities of materials required which cuts waste to an absolute minimum.
Whether this 3D-printed home is giving us a view of the future or further proof that more hybrid constructions that combine 3D printed elements with traditional wooden frame construction is a more likely next step, it is obvious the time, cost, creative and environmental benefits of 3D printing will play a significant part in the development of the housing development industry.
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