3D printing technology has become a staple in many aspects of modern production, including the construction industry. Homes that once took months or years to build are easily constructed using 3D printers in mere days or weeks, and though these properties are not considered the norm yet, it is likely that in the years to follow, their versatility will only increase homeowners’ willingness to move into these modern dwellings.
April 30, 2021 marks a milestone for 3D printing worldwide as the first time occupants have moved inside of a 3D printed property. Though highly practical, modern, and efficient, many still pose the question, are 3D printed homes safe?
3D Printed Homes Reportedly Safer Than Traditional Options
Many sources and builders alike have made claims that 3D printed homes aren’t just safer, but more durable and last longer than traditional built dwellings. They are carefully constructed with climate control, natural disasters, and inclement weather conditions in mind during the planning process.
The question of safety standards is easily traced back to 2014. In China, a printing architecture firm by the name of Winsun, planned and erected the first functioning 6-story apartment building while also making frontpage news that they have managed to print 10 functional homes in just one day. As of the year 2020, this same company has made claims that they have constructed at least 15 houses with fully functioning interiors. However, the question many ask is whether these same buildings are safe?
Each 3D printed property is constructed from eco-friendly yet highly durable materials that are guaranteed to remain twice as strong as traditional concrete and wood. Namely, these materials are sand as well as construction rubble from other projects. The printer can form these materials into something wholly durable and fully recyclable.
No Building Codes Exist As Of Yet
One of the biggest pitfalls of 3D printed homes is that there are no set standard building codes or procedures that manufacturers must adhere to. That means many of the purportedly safe printed dwellings aren’t ready to receive their first occupants. The government must make it a priority to establish guidelines for the plumbing, electrical, structural integrity, and overall safety of these modern properties. Unfortunately, 3D printed homes are hardly a viable alternative to traditional homes without government regulations.
Though the Chinese company, Winsun, has purportedly manufactured many such homes, they do not allow for insight into their building processes. This also means that the safety of their construction projects is forever called into question and their properties remain unoccupied as of right now.
The Longevity Of 3D Printed Homes
Traditional homes can last up to 100 years or more with proper maintenance, and as few as 20 or 30 years without maintenance. Most companies that currently print homes using 3D technology claim that their properties can for certain survive up to 60 years as long as they are maintained and constantly occupied.
The integrity of the manufactured homes also depends on the materials used. Many companies opt for concrete-based mixes, however, if timber frames are also incorporated into buildings, it can significantly decrease their safety and longevity.
Though highly creative, affordable, and environmentally-conscious, the lack of established safety standards call into question the integrity of 3D printed homes. They are ideal short-term dwellings, but whether they truly stand the test of time remains to be seen.