According to data from the U.S. Census Bureau, the average house requires a span of seven months to materialize. This includes a cascade of developmental stages: the foundation is laid, the framing is erected, insulation is packed, drywall is hung, the plumbing installed, and the electrical grid established. This calls for a broad array of experts. Now, the construction industry is pivoting toward adopting 3D printing technologies to respond more nimbly, sustainably and affordably to the dynamic demands of modern homebuyers.

Japan, for example, has demonstrated the speed, building a house in 24 hours. While the resulting build serves as an office space now, its swift construction proves its potential for future home-building on a time crunch. Japan further showcased this by fabricating a spacious villa in 45 days.

Time may be money and this axiom resonates well in the world of 3D printed structures. Data from 3D print technology company, COBOD, suggests an economic advantage, with the cost of 3D homes approximately 45 percent lower than traditional construction methods. Personalization is also an option.

3D printers for home construction are essentially giant robots, capable of rendering virtually any design specifications a homeowner might dream up. Want a home shaped like a sphere? With 3D printing, such whimsical abodes could be actualized. Plus, these printed homes come with integrated reinforcement, which means no precast or additional reinforcements are required, making it a greener option.

In 2022, ICON, construction tech development company, and the Lennar Corporation, one of the leading home building companies in the U.S., announced a plan to 3D print an entire neighborhood of 100 homes. These solar-powered homes, ranging in size from 1,524 to 2112 square feet, offer a vision of a sustainable future community.

Projects like these pave the way for solving global issues, from the pervasive shortage of housing and scarcity of skilled labor, to the rehabilitation of regions hit by natural disasters. Swift and cost-effective structures could offer near-immediate shelter to communities affected by natural disasters or to the ubiquitous problem of homelessness. A 2022 report from Urbanet, highlights that over 1.8 million people globally lack adequate housing.

“There are far too many homeless people. Working-class people can’t afford basic housing in regular old American cities. Construction’s too wasteful. Houses aren’t energy-efficient enough. At the suburb scale, it’s dystopian, almost, what we’re getting, right? We’re supposed to be the most advanced version of humanity that’s ever existed and we can’t even meet this basic need properly,” Jason Ballard, CEO of ICON told The New Yorker.

The scope of 3D printing extends beyond the residential. As the 3D home-building market grows, other regions are exploring 3D printed structures for office buildings, bus stops and religious centers.

In 2020, the UAE was awarded the Guinness World Record for the first 3D-printed commercial building which served as the headquarters for the Dubai Future Foundation. After a swift 17-day print, followed by interior outfitting, it stands as a testament to rapid, efficient construction, offering up to 60 percent less waste.

The UAE is also home to the world’s largest 3D-printed building and plans to inaugurate the first 3D-printed, fully-functioning mosque by 2025.

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