Updated: Jul 8, 2020
Mark it down: 3D printing is going to revolutionize the construction industry.
While still relatively in its infancy, robotic 3D-printed construction is advancing quickly, and shows tremendous promise in truly democratizing suitable housing and addressing the global housing crisis.
As shown in this article, the results speak for themselves: >60% cost reduction, and 60% waste reduction. Build time wasn't disclosed for this project, but that's likely to be the biggest and most important savings of all. And we'll need a quantum leap in construction speed to address the global housing crisis.
3D-printed construction offers unmatched advantages in cost and waste reduction, durability, sustainability, adaptability, and flexibility. And these benefits are all important and needed. But the area in which 3D-printed construction really stands out from all other methods is in sheer speed.
With possible build times currently in the realm of only 8 hours per 250-SF (23 sq m) unit (and getting shorter), semi-automated construction processes like 3D printing can provide critically needed housing and other built environments far faster than even other modern methods of construction such as prefabricated, panelized or modular construction.
In addition, this method offers additional efficiencies by allowing for use of locally-sourced raw materials, reduction in shipping costs, dramatic labor reduction, and more.
The global housing crisis manifests itself in several areas of housing need, all of which 3D-printed construction can help alleviate:
1. Substandard housing/Slums: Approximately 1.6 billion people live in substandard housing today.(1)
2. Homeless housing: There are currently around 100 million homeless people worldwide.(2)
3. Refugee housing: There are 35 million refugees and internally displaced persons (IDPs) currently.(3)
4. Disaster response housing: Every year, 22 million people are displaced by natural disasters.(4)
5. Population growth housing: The world's population is projected to increase by around 3 billion (a 40% increase) between 2005 and 2030. That translates to a need for over 96,000 additional housing units to be built EVERY SINGLE DAY from now until then. 3D printing is the ONLY construction method I can think of that has a chance of keeping up with this need.
The speed, cost and other advantages of 3D-printed construction can help address this huge and growing global housing crisis, improving billions of lives by providing durable, sustainable, safe, inexpensive housing for all.
2. National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty
3. United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees
4. International Displacement Monitoring Centre