3D printing a house is no easy task. I can tell you it’s not as simple as loading up the 3d printer and hitting “Print”. Though, to be fair, most 3d printers don’t actually print-in-place like traditional printers. They usually just create things in layers which then have to be assembled on site. But then again most modern construction projects are built with some form of prefabrication these days anyway. So what’s all this fuss about 3D printed houses?
The First Step Is To Design Your 3D Printed House
I have to start with the design process. First you need to design the house you want. This means drawing a floor plan, building in all your services (electricity, plumbing, etc) and configuring the house to your needs. Then you import this file into a 3d modeling software such as Solidworks or AutoCad. Then you edit it until it looks how you want it to look (you can add or subtract rooms, change insulation values, and move things around all over the place). If your design is more complicated, you may also have to work with an architect. Once you’re happy with your design, you export it in a format that your 3d printer can understand.
3D Printing The House Pieces
Your next step is to get the plans into a 3d printer’s file format. This process involves slicing up the design into horizontal layers. That’s right, 3D printers don’t print in-situ like regular printers do- they print two-dimensional layers (typically about 0.1″ thick) one at a time. That means you can’t go on and print your floor plan straight from the computer, you have to send it off to a 3d printer for this.
3D Printing Your House
Once the pieces of your house are finished, they’re shipped back to you (in plastic). You then have to lay them out, and cut costs where possible (for example trimming off unnecessary supports) and place them into some sort of frame. THEN you put in all the services and connect them- plumbing, electricity, etc. And then you finally get to paint on the house (or after you’ve been living there for a while you start making improvements).
3D Printing The Final Product
You have to say it- 3d printing is no easy task. It’s not like designing something in software and just sending it to your printer over the internet. You must design what you want first (and metal printers can’t do billiard tables), and build it from scratch. This is why you need to know what you’re doing before you send it off. If you make a mistake, and print your walls too thin, you’ll have to start over (if this is the case, I’d recommend joining a 3d printing forum where people can help you).
The Future Of 3D Printed Houses
The future of 3D printed houses looks bright. The future of printing houses in space looks even brighter. But, I must say, the future of creating a house from scratch on earth is still pretty uncertain. I’d say in a few years we’ll probably have 3d printers large enough to make kitchens and bathrooms out of ceramic (which are very easily printed in volume). With that would come the day when everyone could print their own house.