WILL 3D PRINTING AFFECT THE FUTURE OF GLOBAL HOMELESSNESS?
According to an estimate, over one billion people over the world don’t have a proper shelter for themselves. If we talk about the United States, we are talking about more than half a million people who don’t have a home and even more people who cannot find reliable, low cost housing.
The average home in the United States usually goes for something like $200,000 and takes anywhere between three months to six months to be built.
The question is how can 3d printing technology affect the future of the construction business and global homelessness?
Yes, we have concrete proof (pun intended) that 3D printing technology is being used to make houses and it is not only cheaper than normal construction, but also as sturdy as normal construction and it takes just 48 hours as opposed to three to six months. Sounds too good to be true, right? Well it isn’t. An Austin based construction company partnered with a non-profit to build houses for the under privileged. They build the first ever permitted house in America in Austin’s South by Southwest Conference (SXSW) 2018. It was printed on site and took 48 hours to complete, with a cost of around $10,000. Now the team is working to refine the process and make houses in 24 hours for about $4,000.
The benefits of integrating 3d printing technology with the construction business are huge. The most obvious benefit is that once the industry starts using 3d printing for its needs, it will automatically decrease the labor cost as opposed to contemporary construction. This will not only lower the cost of the company directly but also indirectly. Companies will then have to spend less amount on budgeting, insurance, and other labor related costs. A typical house usually needs 20 to 25 laborers while a 3d printed house only needs 2 to 4 workers.
Second, comes the benefit of low cost, reusable material for printing houses. If you can make some material from waste that can be approved by the authorities, it will also lower your cost of building the house. Also, with 3d printing, there are less chances of wastage.
Another benefit is that you can change the plans as many times as you want. All it means is sending the updated picture to the printer.
While all this talk of innovation and technology is definitely exciting, there are a few problems that must be handled. The biggest challenge is that right now these machines are very expensive, therefore not everybody can buy them. But same as with every technology, this technology is expensive only in the beginning. Once people start using this tech more and more, and the competition increases in the market, 3d printers too will become cheap over time. Another concern is labor costs.3d printing definitely reduces the number of laborers working on a single project, but since it is a new technology and most people are not well versed with it, the labor that comes with it isn’t cheap.
In spite of these challenges there are 3d printing manufacturing companies that are part of the pioneers in the field and are here to stay. And that is exactly what’s needed, more and more people in the field so they can take care of the kinks.