Are 3D Printed Houses the Future of Rural Iowa?
It’s nothing new that the housing market is getting more and more difficult to navigate. Prices and availability of new homes make it seem nearly impossible for people to buy-in. One solution Iowa State University is exploring is 3D printing houses.
Back in December, the Iowa Economic Development Authority awarded ISU a grant of $1.4 million to ISU's College of Design’s 3D Affordable Innovative Technologies Housing Project to find faster and cheaper solutions to meet demands for affordable housing.
Pete Evans, the principal investigator of the Housing Project, said they are working on finding ways to address disaster relief on top of affordable housing.
“And 3D construction printing is one of the central pieces of that,” said Evans. “We are wanting to test out the time savings that are claimed; the cost and money in material- that savings that are claimed; and even the change in labor as the time to construction could be a lot faster with this type of construction.”
Technology, such as 3D printing houses- can help lower risks associated with construction zones. It can also help reduce material usage, allow faster response to natural disasters, and reduce building time in general.
“We saw this video coming out of China where they printed ten houses in 24 hours- it’s a mind-boggling feat. So being able to look at that problem now in the future and be able to now understand that technology is commercialized and that there is a scale of printing now that looks like a gantry crane… and it runs the equivalent of concrete pumper truck except you're telling it where to go and it prints the house layer by layer,” said Evans.
There is uncertainty around whether or not you can actually save money by 3D printing houses- something this project will help answer.
“There's a lot of figures out there that say anywhere from one-third of the cost to half the cost to even more when it comes to cost savings. I think that's astounding- if that's what we're really able to achieve,” said Evans. “I've also heard from a couple of resources that [savings] aren’t quite that so what we need to do is be able to actually test it here in Iowa.”
Evans is optimistic they can complete a house this year.