A French house appears to be the first ‘3D printed’ building that’s actually being used as a permanent family home rather than a prototype or demo .The time and money savings aren’t necessarily the main benefit, rather the flexibility and environmental advantages.
The printing worked on much the same principle as any other 3D printer, complete with computer design and programming and then printing in horizontal layers, just on a much larger scale.
The printing material was polyurethane and the structure was two vertical layers to create a shell. This shell was then filled with concrete to create the walls of the house, with the polyurethane acting as an insulating material.
The printing took 54 hours, though the people behind the project believe this could be reduced to 33 hours on future projects. However, it still took around four months to complete the rest of the construction including adding the roof, doors and windows.
The construction cost was around 20 per cent lower than it would have been with traditional wall building. In the long term, economies of scale and technological improvements could make the reduction closer to 40 per cent.
As well as avoiding any materials waste such as offcuts, the home brings environmental benefits through a curved design that improves airflow.
The other main benefit is that the shape of the house can be custom designed without heavily increasing costs as can happen with a traditional build. In this case, the design includes curving walls to avoid protected trees in the garden without losing too much internal space. The design also allowed better accessibility for wheelchair users.