Have you ever stopped to think about the future of construction? Well, 3D printing technology is set to revolutionise the whole sector in 10 year’s time.

First of all what’s 3D Printing?

It is a technology that converts computer designs into actual objects, by adding thin layers of material, bit by bit and that’s why it is called additive manufacturing.

But we know more questions are running through your mind right now. Here is our explanation:

1. Where has 3D printing been used previously?

Inc., a subsidiary of New York-based S-Squared 3D Printers (SQ3D), stunned the construction world in January when it 3D printed a 1,900 square foot house in a record 48 hours – gifting the world its largest 3D printed house to date.

Although larger buildings have been 3D printed in various cities – including a nearly 7,000 square foot two-storey Dubai office which is billed as the world’s largest 3D-printed building, SQ4D’s is certainly the biggest 3D printed residential house.

The company took only 48 hours of print time, over an eight day period, to deliver the house using less than Sh600,000 worth of construction materials.

2. Is it less labour intensive?

Absolutely, Yes. ARCS technology, which was unveiled in 2018, robotically builds foundations, interior walls, and exterior walls, among other structures in a digital driven system that cuts labour requirements to as little as three workers – accounting for up to 41 per cent of the costs.

The technology achieves shorter build times by doing away and consolidating more than 20 manual labour-intensive processes, including siding, framing, and sheathing.

A 3D printed house is said to be mold and fire-resistant and built to withstand severe weather more than structures completed using traditional construction methods.

3. Is it just about houses?

No. SQ4D’s ARCS 3D printer is touted as capable of creating homes, commercial buildings, roads, and bridges, in a more efficient manner – outperforming conventional building methods by cutting both construction timelines and costs by up to 70 per cent.

The arena of 3D printing of houses is beginning to expand globally as more companies invest millions of dollars into the development of 3D printing technologies. Almost everything you see arround can be printed, from food to clothing to internal body organs. Any spare part of any machine can be printed, you only need the right filament.

4. How much, on average, does it cost to build a 3D printed residential house?

3D printing of homes can cost a lot less than having to build a house using conventional construction techniques. Although the cost varies depending on various factors of production, it costs about Sh1 million to print a modest house – with some companies claiming to deliver houses for only Sh400,000.

5. How long do 3D-printed houses last?

With good maintenance, a 3D printed house can last as long as conventional houses. The lifespan varies but most 3D printed houses should last for between 50 and 60 years.

6. How long can it take to print a small house?

It is possible to print a house using a giant 3D printer in less than 24 hours for small homes, and up to 72 hours for larger homes (in the range of 2,000 square foot).

7. So, what is a 3D printed house made of?

3D printing construction demands that materials must blend design with uniformity and workability. As such, most 3D printed houses are made of concrete.

However, some companies have developed their own material mix consisting of cement, sand, geopolymers, fibers, and other raw materials.

8. How much does a 3D printer cost?

Depends on the task. For simplest tasks, you can get one for as low as USD200. For complex projects, the price cannot go beyond USD10,000.


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