Mighty Buildings’ 700 square feet project in San Diego. (Image courtesy of Mighty Buildings.)
According to McKinsey & Company, the construction sector loses up to $1.6 trillion per year in inefficiency and waste. One company, Mighty Buildings, based in Oakland, Calif., is aiming to do something about that.
Unlike traditional manufacturing methods, 3D-printed construction enables the creation of everything from small complex objects to large volumes up to houses.
While 3D printing inspires designers to redefine something ordinary into something extraordinary, the technology can also do it in less time and use less material to do so.
Mighty Buildings claims to increase the efficiency and reduce the waste in building modern homes. Drawing from foundations in robotics, manufacturing and sustainability, Mighty Buildings’ goal is no less than the reimagination of the construction sector. The company uses a combination of 3D printing and prefab techniques to automate up to 80 percent of the building process for greater productivity.
Certified under California’s Factory-Built Housing program, the company has installed two accessory dwelling units—in San Ramon and San Diego—with more planned on the way.
According to the Oakland, Calif.-based startup, they can build a 350-square-foot studio unit in under 24 hours while using 95 percent fewer labor hours at twice the speed of traditional manufacturing methods.
While traditional construction of residential home costs around $327 per square foot, these 3D-printed homes are up to 45 percent less expensive, according to Mighty Buildings. They are said to be 20 to 30 percent less than prefab construction and have a low cost of ownership.
Each unit is also environmentally friendly as it complies with California’s Title 24 Energy Efficiency Standards and Passive House Standards. They also create a tenth of the waste, contributing only an average of three to five pounds per square foot of waste to landfills.
The company 3D prints with a “light stone” material, a thermoset composite similar to Corian, which is lighter and stronger than printable unreinforced concrete. It is also more thermally resistant than concrete and highly resistant to water penetration and frost damage. Light stone material requires no formwork or support structures.
Mighty Buildings is also currently working with compliance and regulatory agencies to develop more 3D printing materials for houses.
The company is targeting residences from accessory dwelling units to residential developments with custom floor plans and is promising more flexibility and customization with 3D printing. Mighty Buildings uses a software-driven, design-to-production process for the greatest optimization.