Can 3D printing houses make them affordable?

As housing prices across the country continue to soar, an Iowa-based company is seeking to combat the crisis by 3D printing homes.

Alquist 3D, one of the few U.S. companies that 3D-print homes, plans to build 200 3D-printed homes in Virginia starting this summer, according to KTLA’s sister station WFXR.

The process is quite simple: first, a person designs what they want the frame of the house to look like using a computer program. Then a file is transmitted to a machine, which tells it what to do and how to move.

On-site workers pour cement, then the concrete is pumped through the tubes and dispersed in layers.

“We believe in building community. That’s our goal as a company, and it’s pretty hard to have a community if you don’t have anywhere to live,” said Zachary Mannheimer, Founder and CEO of Alquist 3D.

According to Mannheimer, the area in southwestern Virginia where the company is targeting affordable housing issues.

In December 2021, the local Habitat for Humanity chapter was able to place a single mother in the first-ever owner-occupied 3D-printed home.

“When they said they could print the house this way…and said it should be faster, cheaper and safer, we were very excited,” said Janet V. Green, CEO of the Peninsula & Greater Williamsburg chapter of Habitat for Humanity.

With help from Virginia Housing, Virginia Tech, and Alquist 3D, the single mother’s 167-layer home was built. The walls of the three-bedroom house were built in less than 30 hours, Green said.

“[She] will have a 30 year mortgage. The only difference between this and other mortgages is that his is interest free. That’s more than half of what she was paying in rent, and that includes her property taxes and insurance,” Green said.

The CEO of Alquist 3D believes 3D printing could be a game-changer as it has the ability to cut costs by up to 15% by reducing labor, materials and time. Although there are concerns about the displacement of traditional construction jobs and some environmental impacts of this method, he says he is working to address these issues.

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