If South Dakotans old and new are having trouble finding affordable houses, maybe we just need to get the students at DSU and Mines to crank up their 3D printers and make more houses. Habitat for Humanity is using concrete printers to cut house construction time by four weeks. As Habitat and 3D-printing builder Alquist will attest, time is money:
Tawkiyah Jordan, senior director of housing and community strategy for Habitat for Humanity, said the organization adopted this method of building to meet the need to innovate, while also keeping high-quality homes affordable. It costs approximately $150,000 to construct a typical home with wood. …[U]sing concrete to construct homes with a 3D printer… saves Alquist up to 15 percent on building expenses.
…Using 3D printing to build homes provides numerous benefits, including a decrease in construction time due to the machine’s efficiency. During the process, concrete is extruded from a large machine into layers that form the walls, foundation and footing of the home. While the machine is printing, it requires little supervision or staff on the site, which prevents injuries and saves costs on workers’ compensation, said Kirk Andersen, director of operations for the New York-based 3D-printing company SQ4D.
He said he’s completed about 40 percent of a home in just under six months by using one 3D-printing machine, compared to completing a project within six to 12 months using the industry’s standard building practices [Claretta Bellamy, “How 3D Printing Can Be the Solution to the Nation’s Affordable Housing Crisis,” NBC News, 2021.05.01].
3D printing doesn’t just decrease the up-front cost of building a home. The house that Habitat printed in Virginia includes a 3D printer to make replacement parts like electrical outlets and cabinet knobs.
The state of Iowa sees an opportunity to use 3D printing to tackle workforce housing needs:
The Iowa Economic Development Authority on Friday approved $1.4 million for the Iowa State University College of Design to purchase a 3D printer capable of producing concrete houses. Its goal is to build a neighborhood of up to 34 3D-printed homes in Hamburg, a southwest Iowa town recovering from a massive flood two years ago.
The agency’s director, Debi Durham, said the college also will develop a curriculum for training contractors on 3D printing and new state building codes in order to allow wide use of the technique in Iowa [Kim Norvell, “Iowa State University Gets $1.4 Million to Buy 3D Concrete Printer for Low-Cost Building,” Des Moines Register, 2021.12.20].
Builders say concrete homes don’t rot like wood does and can better withstand wind, floods, and fire. But if you insist on wood for your build, hang in there: the University of Idaho is studying how to use wood waste to produce a greener 3D printing material.