3D printing technology has come a long way since it was first invented back in 1984. Today, engineers are using 3D printing to build everything from medical devices and guns to jet engines and now even houses. Yep, you heard that right, now they’re even building houses with 3D printers, an example of which being the Chinese firm Huashang Tengda, which successfully 3D printed a 4,305 square-foot house in just 45 days earlier this year.
House builders are turning to 3D printing because it has the potential to make construction much more efficient than ever before, reducing the need for manual labor and minimizing waste. 3D printing also uses environmentally friendly materials, and in the case of the Chinese homes, are built to withstand an earthquake measuring up to 8 on the Richter scale. Even better, 3D printing allows architects to create buildings of any size or shape, allowing for a totally customized design.
At present, most real estate professionals will only encounter 3D printed development models. Such models allow clients to view a building from all perspectives before it’s actually built.
3D printing in residential real estate
Although it’s still an early concept, 3D printing could potentially transform the residential real estate sector. Another Chinese firm, Shanghai-based Winsun, was reportedly able to print ten new homes in a single day, and the company also built a five story apartment building from scratch in just a few days. Some experts believe that 3D printing could solve housing problems in numerous countries across the world, and some companies are already getting started. In Italy, a company called WASP is marketing its BigDelta 3D printer, which is 12 meters tall and specially designed for building homes made out of mud and clay.
Commercial real estate
3D printing could also transform the commercial real estate sector. In Dubai, the world’s first 3D printed office building was printed in just 17 days using a 20-foot tall printer equipped with a 120-foot long robotic arm. Dubai is actually betting big on 3D printers in construction, and has plans to build 25 percent of its buildings with them by the year 2030. The potential to reduce construction time, customize design by the client, and reduce costs is enticing. Even if whole buildings aren’t printed, it’s likely that pieces of future buildings will be.
One thing that remains to be sorted out is what kind of impact 3D printed buildings will have on construction regulations. Retailers could expect that a certain percentage of construction will be required to take place on site to minimize environmental impacts. The supply chain will change as people become more accustomed to living and working in printed buildings.
The future of 3D printing will change real estate. With massive potential to reduce construction costs and impacts while building secure structure, keep an eye on this emerging field.