Press "Enter" to skip to content

Print New Houses with Concrete!

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.


  1. jerry 2022-01-10 10:30

    The price of suitable building lots is what drives the cost up even more. Watertown, South Dakota has Enercept Building Systems These are built to suit and they fit together like Lego’s. Strong, energy efficient and like the concrete building systems, are ready to finish on the inside.

  2. ABC 2022-01-10 10:32

    3D print a mini Governors mansion, place it outside of Pierre (French pronunciation), and give out framable business cards, each card inscribed with—

    You are a Governor! You are a voter! You own South Dakota!

    Tourists would love it!

    What do you think, Huron or Watertown or ?.

    On another topic, reading CNN, some Canadian academics are warning fellow Canadians, hey watch out for USA to our south, they could go full bore fascist by 2030.

    What do you think?

    Will we have stupid and clumsy dumb right wing start living in the 1950s doings in South Dakota, or will all 50 states and the 51st state of DC really be under a goose stepping European style fascist regime, maybe with millions of valid votes being tossed out by Republican secretaries of states?

    My opinion. So far South Dakota has been embarrassingly stupid. We are currently the state with the longest rule of one party for Governor, 1978. Oregon last flipped in 1986 to a Republican, Texas and Idaho flipped in 1994 to a Democrat. Ballotopedia, Gubernatorial elections 2022.

    What’s the answer? Split the Democratic Party into 2 or 3 pieces? Double down in the Democratic Party and read a lot of FDR and Biden? Jump ship and start a People’s Party (1896 Andrew Lee won, Republicans came in 2nd, Democrats were not on ballot) or Progressive Party?

    As it is now, I think the Democrats will put in a last minute candidate who will lose. D Party is unorganized, run by regional backslappers, and does not do MCGovern things to make the Party what it should be. Now it is just a weak bipartisan, me too, unprincipled let’s get along with them and maybe we get a few crumbs weak Party. I guess I would support a Progressive type Party with new leadership. (Yes, a low 3% income tax that does not tax lower income people)

    Full bore fascism or dumb Governors? Hard to say. I think Trumps influence is fading, but millions still believe the lie.

    We have to be alert. Trump won 65% of the vote here. That tells you all you need to know about politics here.

    Billie Sutton probably won’t run.

    Nonvoters will continue to not vote and be serfs.

    The answer will be the influx of 60,000 Democratic voters from the West Coast or the East. Our population over time will go up to 960,000 or so.

    We need a healthy 4 Party system here. Democrats, Libertarians, Progressives (Center-left) and Republican Insurrectionist. Ideas and debates will be strong.

  3. Joe 2022-01-10 12:52

    Concrete is not a “green” building material. Very energy and resource intensive.

    A better path is to legalize the building of smaller homes on smaller lots and legalize plexes in areas that are just single-family zoning at present. Combine that with an Entercept-like construction method.

  4. larry kurtz 2022-01-10 13:52

    Joe is right: they don’t call it the School of Mines for nothing but more wildfire resistant alternatives to what got built in Boulder County, Colorado should cause lenders, county commissions, lenders, insurance companies and developers to be sued into bankruptcy.

    Stuccoed walls, steel clad windows and steel roofing do much better against low intensity burns and should be code in most counties.

  5. WillyNilly 2022-01-10 14:13

    I don’t know about a cement house but after a tornado damaged my home this past summer and having to deal with contractors and insurance, etc. I believe we need to ensure new homes are stronger and existing homes are strengthened. It’s not just tornados, it’s floods, fires, and whatever an angry Mother Nature decides to punish humans with for being so thoughtless and stupid. I believe that we will see more damaging weather which will leave more people going through the hell of getting their homes repaired or reconstructed.

  6. jerry 2022-01-10 14:49

    Bucky Fuller says domes baby. These are wind resistant because high winds don’t have a surface area to blow against.

  7. jerry 2022-01-10 20:47

    Mr. Lansing, I saw kitchen cabinets made with local beetle killed wood when I was in Aladdin, Wyoming. They were beautiful. The blue colors and the grain, really set them off. When those are gone, it should be a pretty good place for Aspen to repopulate.

  8. grudznick 2022-01-10 21:15

    grudznick has some of those, Mr. jerry, and they are indeed quite sweel. Back in the day people used to shun the blue stain, but now it fetches a premium price and will keep doing so now that all the bugs are, until the next infestation, dead.

  9. Porter Lansing 2022-01-10 21:44

    Right, Jerry. When the beetle kill are all blown over, aspen and spruce will repopulate and make a beautiful forest. Of course, we’ll be long dead, but our great grandchildren will enjoy it. lol

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.