I have seen the future and it’s the printed house By: greening homes

July 24, 2017
Alternative housing

This blog is part of our Alternative Housing series.

You may have heard the news. Early this year a Russian company made history by constructing the first on-site 3D printed house. Yes, a real house at 37 square feet. The entire process, including painting, took 24 hours and cost a little over $10,000 US.


Watch the printer build this house, and Lincoln Steffens’ famous quote – I have seen the future springs to mind. The walls, partitions and building envelope were printed on site. Only the windows, paint and furnishings were added.

To say this technology could revolutionize the building industry is an understatement. According to Nikita Chen-yun-tai, the inventor of the mobile printer and founder of Apis Cor, the company that built the house:

“We want to help people around the world to improve their living conditions. That’s why the construction process needs to become fast, efficient and high-quality as well. For this to happen we need to delegate all the hard work to smart machines.”

Printing a house at the site will save on travel, off-site material development and yes, labour. Up to now, 3D houses have been printed elsewhere and assembled onsite.

The positive take is affordable housing that, according to Apis Cor will last up to 175 years. We also note the opportunities for improved energy efficiency. As with insulated concrete forms, this printed house appears to offer no room for air leaks. Naturally proper attention to the various penetrations that take place with the houses exhaust systems, as well as window and door installations would need to be detailed at the site post-printing.  But, imagine a printed passive house!

The negative take of course is the decline in manufacturing and construction jobs as a result of the massive printer. Will the benefits of affordable housing outweigh the loss of so many jobs?

Happily, we know we will still need humans to renovate homes – we hope! However, 3D printing for parts and home additions may become a reality at some point.

We have seen the future. Just when will it arrive?

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