While COBOD has dominated the field of additive construction (AC) globally, other firms have begun to compete on both national and international levels. In Japan, Serendix became the first company to 3D print homes, attracting numerous headlines in part due to the unique designs it fabricates. Most recently, the company announced a plan to sell six 3D printed homes and signed a “basic agreement on the development of the world’s most advanced housing” with developer Yamaichi Uniheim Estate.
After Japanese architect Masayuki Sono won the NASA 2015 3D housing challenge, Sono’s unique Sphere design was 3D printed by Serendix at the Hyakunen Jutaku factory in 2021. Measuring less than 10m2, Sphere was printed in pieces and assembled in less than 24 hours for under 3 million yen (about USD $25,500).
In July of this year, the company said that it would beginning six units of a new design, serendix50 (barnacle model), the first of which has been printed. This one-story dwelling is five times larger than Sphere at 50m2, sold at a price of 5.5 million yen (USD$ 37,726), and can be completed in 44 hours and 30 minutes. While the walls are 3D printed, the roof is assembled from CNC cut wood panels. The model was designed by Keio University KGRI Ring Design & Digital Manufacturing Creative Center and KAP, Serendix relies on an unnamed Chinese printer to construct its buildings. Because the elements are printed off-site and then assembled, it could be a WinSun machine.
Additionally, the company signed a partnership with Yamaichi Uniheim Estate, a publicly traded, 112-employee developer that has supplied 17,000 units and 190 buildings in the condominium industry. The two will collaborate on the development of a smart city design featuring Serendix’s 3D printing technology.
“Until now, the house was haute couture (depending on the craftsman), and it was natural that the cost was high at tens of millions of yen,” Serendix said in a statement. “In the automotive industry, 40 years ago, the price reduction of products began due to the innovation of the manufacturing process using robots. We believe that the 3D printer house is the beginning of complete robotization of the housing industry.”
The growth of Serendix in the Japanese building industry suggests that the company may be right in declaring the start of a new era in robotic construction. It may not be the only firm exploring AC in Japan, but it is the first to gain traction with residential projects. Otherwise, there is also progress taking place in industrial AC. As the technology takes off, we’re sure to see international competition increase. For instance, Japanese conglomerate JGC has already adopted COBOD systems to 3D print energy related infrastructure. Meanwhile, Taisei & Taiheiyo are researching AC materials. Though Serendix may be one of the most prominent names in Japanese AC, it could eventually be overshadowed by bigger players domestically and internationally.
Images courtesy of Serendix.
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