(NewsNation) — Construction has started on the first 3D-printed, two-story house in the U.S.
The house in Houston and is being constructed by a massive printer that weighs more than 12 tons. Made of concrete, the printer will do the majority of construction work on the 4,000-square foot, 3-bedroom home.
Constructing a house using a 3D printer takes a bit of a different approach when it comes to design.
“In the designing of this house we not only think about the general floorplans, and you know, usage, but we also design the actual print path, like how the printer will print, where it starts and where it stops,” said architect Leslie Lok.
Other homes have been built using 3D printers, which use nozzles to spray concrete that forms the foundation and walls. But adding a second story means new challenges in terms of structure and logistics.
The project has been in the works for two years, with three companies working together: design firm Hannah, Peri 3D Construction and construction engineering company Cive.
The printer will take 330 hours and do most of the hard work of building a home. That reduces the need for construction workers.
“You can see that on site we have currently five people. One of the benefits also: It takes a lot of the heavy lifting, the labor,” Lok said.
The designers say a concrete home will be able to withstand hurricanes or other severe weather in Texas.
The designers hope this home can serve a step toward learning how to 3D print even larger structures, particularly multi-family homes. There’s a shortage of between 2 to 6 million homes in the U.S., and new housing isn’t being built fast enough to bridge the gap.
Up for Growth estimates that housing is being under produced by 3.9 million units.
The technology could also allow for customized features without additional labor costs, by slightly altering the design.
The team hopes to have the home finished in a few months. One downside is that the cost of concrete is currently higher than other building materials, but those working on the project hope costs will come down as 3D printing becomes more popular.
Researchers have also begun experimenting with using 3D printing to construct prototype homes out of other materials, including clay and environmentally friendly options like recycled plastic and reinforced sawdust.