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Building houses the 21st century way!

by on November 7, 2012

From → Building Control

19 Comments
  1. Arq permalink

    Interesting idea, although a rapidly expanding population doesn’t perhaps entirely justify the technology does it ? Population and responding to it’s needs must be more than just building more dwellings…

    Rapid cure concrete was, I seem to think, a problem in the 60’s with system building – Concrete reaches full strength at 28 days, so don’t print it too fast ! Factory made timber framed panels go up pretty quick on site too and the tech’s already here, but there’s still some resistance to the technique.

    Thanks for posting the clip – very thought provoking.

    • Please do not let Builders get away with using products and techniques that allow speed of building and a lack of inspection. My house was built in 2007 using the Robust Design Plan. Only 19 Units were built but all have had problems with the creaking timbers, faulty stair units and horrendous plumbing work. Just this year two more of the plastic pipes ‘popped’ out of their junction boxes and caused damage to the ceilings. British Gas who responded both times stated that the pipes had not been pushed far enough into the units. As we are over 2 years now the Plumbing Company will not respond, nor will the Builder. My main bedroom floor is like a patchwork where it has been cut to gain access to the plumbing. Most of this was done before we took over after the Plumbers found leaks. In fact the drain under the kitchen sink is held up with a piece of wood.The makers of the plumbing system used said they have almost nil failures of their equipment. Which is by the way expected to have a lifetime of 25 years. What happens then.

      We need stricter supervision of building sites with technology that is proven. Faster has always been bad, quality goes out of the window. I have as you can see less Warranty on this house than a Cooker or a Fridge which is covered for faulty workmanship for six years. If anyone wants photos of this shoddy mess just let me know, I have dozens.

  2. Simon Evans permalink

    Raises more questions than it answers. Looks like someone has just taken the idea of 3D printing and writ it LARGE.

    For starters, it is very high tech and so only likely to be suitable for rich countries. An how many rich countries want extruded concrete houses?

    Secondly, it requires extremely fast drying concrete (so it says). Where do you get that and has it been tried and tested?

    Thirdly, while system building must have legs, and ones that have been insufficiently explored to date, most take advantage of the controlled conditions offered by off site prefabrication. This system would have all the problems associated with operating on difficult terrain and in inclement weather.

    It’s good to think outside the box but I shall not be investing in this just yet!

  3. John Bone permalink

    Shame it is still thinking about detached houses. The worst shape wall area for heat loss. Built a terrace! So retro!

  4. Michael Hayes permalink

    Great concept. 3D printing is the future in many manufacturing sectors. But there will be little point in being able to print a building in a few hours if it still takes months for LPAs to grant planning permission. Now, same day planning permission – there’s a futuristic idea.

  5. I think it needs a bigger mixer lorry

  6. This idea of printing buildings with concrete was covered on a BBC Horizon program on 3D printing a few months back. There is a lot of investor interest in the subject.

    This article is about that subject:

    http://stockgumshoe.com/reviews/motley-fool-stock-advisor/forget-about-facebook-lets-make-some-real-money-motley-fool/

    It covers

    Dassault Systemes (DSY.PA)

    Stratasys (SSYS)

    3D Systems (DDD)

    Organovo (OVNO)

    I have been following 3D printing for some time, and on being sent some spam about the Motly Fool “video” decided to watch it thinking that it must be 3D printing they were going on about. I think their video ludicrously oversells their service and makes it look very dubious. I never got to the end, but used facts provided to Google and get the “stock gumshoe” page linked above.

    The BBC television program about this mentioned a company called Renishaw, (RSW.L) which on the face of it is a boring old engineering company. But they have a growing 3D printing department that may eventually get so much bigger than the rest and become the whole company. It is more of the type that supplies high end rather than consumer items. I bought a few shares in RSW.L to see a good profit since, although whether this was fortuitous, I have no idea.

    The Organovo company looks to replace the organ transplant “industry” which was a necessary part of medical advance, but before it got established was seen as ghoulish and of dubious ethics. Printed organs will have the right DNA so as not to require dangerous anti-rejection drugs.

    Many activities are impractical at present, but could expand into huge markets made possible by 3D printing. These are customers few people even know exist today. Cryonics is one such activity.

    Lastly, it is important to note the possibility of recycling. A 3D printer that can take plastic waste, rather than use new plastic, is a possibility. This may well put a spanner in the “ink” market. In the more distant future, one can envision 3D printers that take general rubbish and grind it up to select materials that are needed for multi substance printing.

  7. Are you sure that it is 7th November and not 1st April!!

  8. It may be warmer, but until there is bullet proof sound insulation who wants to live in a terrace? No access to the back garden from the front, for just one example, unless through a tandem garage perhaps. As for a 3-D printed concrete house, how does that stand up to our wet climate when under construction?

  9. Does this machine also print the staircases and the windows as well as the plumbing and drainage runs? Stop the world, i think I want to get off…….Ha.

    • Arq permalink

      I’m sort of with you, but on the other hand, when I look at the Model T Ford and car production 100 years later there’s something to be said about the approach to progress – a typical new house is a sort of hybrid when compared to the Victorian terrace – more than likely small masonry units assembled on site, timber joists, slates or tiles but with developed fixings and gradually some new technology to improve energy use. Perhaps the difference is the permanence of property versus (ultimately) disposability of the car. I like my traditionally built home, but I need my computer… maybe construction is due some radical ideas in order to progress to wherever we need to get to (I don’t entirely know where that is though !)

  10. Davis K permalink

    Surely the more advanced solution would be to have fully robotic manufacturing of system components for modular houses that only require ‘craftsmen’ to assemble them on site? These components can be much more sophisticated in being customized to the end user’s preferences and will be virtually completed once connected! This concrete printing is ludicrous – the brain child of a concrete manufacturer no doubt! A bit like someone inventing an automated core drill on a massive scale that will create a cave in the side of a mountain in a few hours…..mmmm just what we need eh? The sooner the cave is finished the sooner we can chase after those woolly mamoths and get some dinner! LOL.

  11. Arq permalink

    …..also, slightly closer to home, this:

    http://www.huf-haus.com/en/home.html

    Perhaps, despite our gut feelings that there’s something too ‘standardised’ or mechanical about the concrete printed house, a large number of the new homes built here are in many respects standardised kits of parts to standardised plans, using small basic components assembled on site. Housebuilders often offer a variety of kitchen fittings, finishes etc. as options. In many ways we’re already at the level of Mass Customisation (that was very big in the Auto Industry a few years ago), but it’s the on-site craft v. factory efficiency that maybe hampers progress too far in this direction. Is it a capital expenditure/project funding issue perhaps ? A love of brick and ‘stone’ ? Relative labour costs ? I’ve often wondered why the construction industry hasn’t absorbed more from manufacturing, although that maybe just my own perspective and experience to date.

  12. I would have thought that 3D printing of detached houses would enable architects and their clients let their imagination run riot over designs, including flowing Roger Dean type organic constructions
    http://www.neatorama.com/2006/08/21/roger-deans-house/
    If recycled plastic or other material that is of low thermal conductivity and is fire resistant can be used then the building need not be cold and damp as one contributor to this site suggested that concrete could be.

  13. Who remembers that brilliant invention, High Alumina Cement? Wow, early strength, 28 day strength in 7 days, higher bond stress wonderful material, we could build fantastic concrete structures with it. Then the Sir John Cass swimming pool collapsed and we discovered “conversion”. Then there was asbestos; dimensionally stable, rot-free, vermin-proof, fireproof, waterproof, thermally insulating, sound insulating, tough as old boots, it could be mixed with cement and moulded into roof sheets, pipes, gutters, and the like and made into insulating board, or wrapped round pipes and lagged around boilers, sprayed up as fire insulation in ships and buildings. It was the solution to a thousand building problems. We put it in brake shoes and pads and in clutch plates, We lined railway carriages with it, Then we discovered mesothelioma……..

    New technology by all means but we need to research the materials used in it very carefully first.

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