Three news stories this week spotlight the current and future benefits of 3D printed buildings, which include environmental sustainability and lower cost.
First, Mighty Buildings, an American construction startup, is 3D printing small homes in 24-hours with a proprietary “Light Stone Material” that, unlike concrete, hardens almost immediately under UV light. The company says that its automated construction process can save more than 95% of labor hours and significantly lowers building costs and material waste compared to traditional construction techniques. Printed in the Mighty Buildings’ warehouse, the units currently produced are a hybrid (part 3D-printed and part traditional construction) and only available in California. The company plans to deliver fully 3D-printed units within the next year.
Out in Todos Santos, Mexico, luxury hotel brand Habitas Group, is planning a new 24-acre resort of sustainably built 3D-printed bungalows. Habitas 3D prints building components in its own factory and then assembles the hotel on-site to ensure low environmental impact, the company says. The brand has 3D printed resorts in Tulum, Mexico, and Namibia with plans underway for a third resort in AlUla, Saudi Arabia to open before the end of this year.
Both Mighty Buildings and Habitas 3D print in a warehouse then ship the building parts for assembly onsite. But what if construction 3D printers could use local soil and cut out the transport? That’s the idea explored in a newly released report by researchers at the American Chemical Society. The researchers began by collecting soil samples from a colleague’s backyard and tailored the material with a new environmentally friendly additive so that it would bind together to be easily extruded through a 3D printer and have adequate load bearing properties. According to principal researcher Sarbajit Banerjee, once they have a better picture of the chemistry, functionality, and feasibility of building with local soils, they plan to further explore how this technology can be used beyond our own planet.