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Will You Print Your Next Home?

Posted by Tom Flounders 8 months ago

As 3D printing transitions from the realms of science fiction to everyday life, consider what your first project might be.

 

A key for the mysterious drawer which has never before been opened?

 

An action figure moulded in your image?

 

How about a three storey, 5000 sq ft, six bedroomed house with a secret staircase, gym, pool and hot tub in the basement?

 

A couple in Highgate, North London decided on the latter option, demolishing their existing property and making use of the innovative technology to leave them with a home reportedly worth five times that of their previous abode. It should be noted that this was not 3D printed in the truest sense (here, the printers merely ‘sculpted’ old fashioned wood, creating a number of labelled sections to later be slotted together like pieces of Lego), but San Francisco based start-up, Apis Cor, are one of several companies producing the real deal. A YouTube video posted by the company last year, purporting to show the world’s first printed home, has garnered over 3 million views and numerous enquiries as to how orders can be placed. Whilst absent of the luxuries enjoyed by the Highgate property, the figures are undoubtedly impressive – a house constructed in 24 hours with an apparent lifespan of up to 175 years, at a cost of approximately £10,000.  

 

Brands like Huf Haus have bordered on being household names for years, but their impact on the market as a whole has been minor. Never before though, has a solution to Britain’s housing crisis seemed so achievable. A future in which giant, property-printing machines loom over the skyline, each a disconcerting cross of The Terminator and Sarah Beeny, is some way off, thanks, in part, to the current failure by many codes and standards bodies to recognise 3D printing as a legitimate construction method. Should companies like Apis Cor eventually become part of everyday life however, the impact on the market would be fascinating. Common sense suggests that this would be good news for those unable to otherwise step onto the property ladder and for those house builders willing to embrace the technology, but would existing homeowners (and particularly landlords) suffer from falling prices/rents/demand as a consequence?

 

Prohibitive cost and the relative youth of the technology currently limit production aspirations for most to small houses, but the scope for expansion is clearly there. How long before schools, hospitals, even space shuttles are printed?

This post was edited on Apr 9, 2018 by Karolina Labrenz

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