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The Future of Home Building


The Future of Home Building


Sean McCoy shares a post that takes a look ahead at the value of 3D printing homes. 

For a technology to disrupt an industry, it must be technologically feasible and commercially viable. The 3D printing of homes has satisfied the first condition, and entrepreneurs are working to satisfy the second. Every construction company should ask itself: what will the world of 3D-printing homes look like, and what is my role in it? The first step is to understand where 3D printing is now. 

What is 3D printing a home? 3D printers use a mechanical arm to build the structure, e.g., foundation, walls, and some roof elements. In some designs, the arm is stationary in the middle of the site. In other designs, the arm moves along two sets of tracks, one track running along the width of the site, and the other track along the length. Some robotic arms install pre-built bricks, while other arms excrete a high-viscosity liquid that solidifies into a type of concrete. Some of the high-viscosity printers have created new types of concrete!

Lower cost We have seen benefits of 3D printing homes come to the trifecta of speed, quality, and cost. Our analysis suggests that current 3D printing technologies can deliver the foundation and framing of an average single-family home at 25% of current industry average costs. That means the average single-family home can sell for 14% less when 3D-printed, and every firm involved in construction still captures the same profit. 

The crucial insight isn’t that 3D printed homes are already cheaper, but that they will continue to become cheaper. That is because current 3D printing technology is at the beginning of its learning and scale curves. As the technology matures and firms accumulate experience, per-unit costs will continue declining. On the other hand, current construction methodologies are 60 years into their learning curves and many firms have fully realized the benefits of scale.

Another cost reduction comes from waste. The 3D printer will have minimal waste, and those savings can be passed on to the homebuyer, further decreasing the price of a 3D-printed home.

Faster delivery Ask anyone in construction for their biggest headache, and they are likely to say delays. Robots are punctual. Jobs and projects are not delayed because robots were late or there were not enough robots. Another cause of delays is re-work to meet quality standards. Robots are consistent. If the prototype meets the standard, every iteration will meet the standard, avoiding costly lengthy re-work.

Key points include:

  • Cost
  • Design
  • Supply

Read the full article, 3D printing of homes is here. What is it? What is the value prop?, on the