While it’s clearly evident that 3D printing is poised to ‘change the world’ in many, many ways, from bioprinting to construction, there is still a large majority out there convinced that 3D printers simply offer a more amusing way to make colorful keychains and gaming figurines. As some outrageous innovations appear in the news though as well, from things like 3D printed asphalt to innovations like crazy, foldable furniture for your whole pad, we often hear predictable quips like, “What are they gonna do next–3D print your car and home too?”
The short answer is yes–and indeed, examples of both houses and vehicles have already been produced via 3D printing. The reality is though that the examples out there so far have certainly not been ready for mass consumption. Now, Facit Homes is responsible for ‘3D printing’ homes in London. Well, sort of, according to Facit’s managing director, Bruce Bell, who says that technically, 3D printing is a term he avoids.
“People like to use the term [3D printing],” Bell said. “But it makes sense in a way, because you’re using a computer… and you’re getting components that are an exact replica of what you see on the screen. Conceptually, it’s the same thing.”
While most of the public probably won’t see his distinction in terms, and this construction is likely to be branded with the 3D printed label, for better or worse, the actual process in the architect’s office consists of designing new constructions in 3D and then using those files for making something akin to a ‘housing puzzle.’ Everything is computer- and machine-manipulated in the fabrication, with an automated blade slicing wood and other materials, which are then assembled by humans, merely responsible for putting things together–not making them.
What’s one huge benefit to this type of construction? With 3D design and then the resulting fabrication, there is no chance for human error, other than a digital one, which can easily be edited. Without all the manual labor involved, pieces are predictable, offering reliable quality and a stable product every time.
“The thing with homes and construction is it’s done by hand. And as soon as items are made by hand there’s a lot of interpretation… and uncertainty,” said Bell. “And that’s why these products are so good, because they’ve never been touched by human hands,” he said.
While sometimes handcrafted, one-of-a-kind pieces are desirable and sought out, that’s really not so when it comes to building the sturdy framework of a building. Just like traditional 3D printing, the process proceeds directly from the digital design to the digital construction.
“… for our customers, it’s about guaranteeing that they’re going to get what we’ve told them they’re going to get. It’s cutting out the human interpretation you get in the traditional construction process; it’s taking what people see in consumer products and bringing that to the construction industry.”
Customization, however, is absolutely one of the central benefits. And as so often not the case when it comes to specialty construction, affordability is also greater, meaning that clients have more exciting options open to them.
“It allows us to do more with less, in terms of design and finance,” Bell told us. “We can spend more time designing it; focus on details and fabricate items that you couldn’t otherwise do using a traditional process.”
The construction is quite comprehensive as well, even including light fixtures. Bell explains that space is left for insulation, electronics, and plumbing areas, as those technicians come in to do their work within the defined spaces.
And if you are a future homeowner, you can also look forward to a quality, precision interior.
“We’ll do staircases, kitchens and canopies; all these items have been digitally designed and digitally manufactured,” said Bell.
“We can use these digital tools to get something that’s super-tailored and built around people’s lives. These tools allow us to be flexible and to achieve what people want – as opposed to a building system that might be limited.”
In fact, one of their homes featured in the Highgate area should be of great interest to anyone curious about 3D printing technology, architecture, or both. If you are in the market for some progressive real estate, you may want to check out their homes featuring laser-cut steel staircases, windows that line up with ventilation stacks, built-in under-floor heating, and even luxurious underground swimming pools.
These types of homes, offering greater affordability and customization are certainly an example of how concepts in 3D printing technology can–and will–transform just one of many industries, moving this one substantially forward–and putting all the benefits we hear so much about into real action, from allowing the consumer a great deal more empowerment and involvement in the construction process to offering numerous exciting options–with the possibility of an even lower pricetag. Discuss this story in the 3D Printed Home Concept forum on 3DPB.com.[Source: Alphr]
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