As the price for homes continues to skyrocket, many are looking for alternative housing, with interest rates not expected to fall anytime soon. While 3D printing first seemed like a novelty when it came onto the scene, it could now offer the solution.
In the last year, several companies have started to grow the business of 3D printing homes, often doing so for far cheaper than the current average cost of a home and in a quicker turnaround.
Companies like the Arizona-based Diamond Age, for example, often sell their homes starting in the upper $200,000s, which falls in line with the average cost of a traditionally built home, according to a report from 2022 Rocket Mortgage.
However, with the pandemic creating a supply shortage in building materials, many were left looking to buy an existing property, which the report says has an average price of $400,600, instead of building something new.
This is where 3D printing got its jump start. By utilizing materials that were not in short supply and don’t take time to grow naturally, businesses like Diamond Age have been able to keep the new home market growing.
Some, like the University of Maine Advanced Structures and Composites Center, are even using recyclable materials to 3D print homes, which, in turn, almost eliminates construction waste “due to the precision of the printing process.”
According to a November release from the University of Maine, the school’s ASCC utilized funding from the US Department of Energy’s Hub and Spoke program to build a 600-square-foot prototype home with 3D-printed floors, walls, and roof.
A common concern some have with 3D printed homes is if they are insulated for colder or warmer climates. But the school put those concerns to bed, adding that the houses they printed are “fully recyclable and highly insulated with 100% wood insulation.”
Maine Gov. Janet Mills spoke about the achievement from the university late last year, saying that while the “state is facing the perfect storm of a housing crisis and labor shortage,” the school is looking to address the issues head-on.
“While there is still more to be done, today’s development is a positive step forward,” Mills said in the release.
Other companies are also following this model, like the LA-based Azure Printed Homes, which reports that it uses 60% plastic waste from food packaging and plastic bottles as its printing material, ApartmentTherapy.com reported.
Beyond materials, speed is also a common factor that can play a part in building a new home. While a traditionally-built home can take anywhere from three months to a year to complete, companies like Diamond Age say they can do it within 60 days with their full-stack robotics.
Others have agreed with the expedited time frame, as Azure estimates that printing a home is 70% faster than taking a traditional route.
Zach Mannheimer, the CEO of the 3D printing construction startup Alquist, told Business Insider that a traditional construction project that would take six to seven months can now be built in five to six months with printers. Mannheimer added that the goal is to complete projects in a four-month timeline.
Even further, Mannheimer said that as printing homes become more common, the prices are expected to fall, which could make the homes even more popular.