With the help of robots, 3-D homes may be one answer to affordable housing.
We have 3-D printers, guns and machinery, so why not 3-D houses! They’re here and it is hoped that they will help with 3 existing challenges, the affordable housing crisis, the shortage of skilled labor and the rising costs of materials. It’s a tall order but so far it looks up to the challenge. They are built by robots squeezing cement mixtures the way industries like dental implants do, but on a larger scale. Two companies are pioneering it. That is moving beyond the pilot program stages. The first is in Texas, Austin based ICON. They print homes on site using their Vulcan system which lays down their secret formula cement layer by layer. The homes are energy efficient and withstand extreme weather and earthquakes. Their competitor is Mighty Buildings in California. They produce cement panels in a factory and then assemble them on site. In this case they are synthetic stone made from a polymer composite. The kits include steel frame, insulation and gypsum boards for interior walls. A robotic tool can create a desired look like stucco or siding. The company is now marketing 3-D home kits for $349,000. It is partnering with a developer Palari Group to build 2 subdivisions in California, one in Rancho Mirage, a well to do area outside Palm Springs. The 15 units neighborhood will be the first net zero community. With solar panels and storage batteries, the owners will not have to spend anything on electricity. Construction is a contributor to climate change, so it is possible that 3-D homes would lower the carbon emissions of the industry. The only unknown right now, is how will these homes fare 30 or 40 years from now? Still 3-D homes sound like a promising answer to affordable housing.