3D Printing Housing May be The Future of Homebuilding

As supply chain problems continue, 3D printing may be the solution.

By Aurielle Weiss  

Housing shortages have been real for decades. The perfect form of pandemic, climate and economic migration is accelerating this concern. Lumber prices have risen 50% since the pandemic began. 

A typical stick built home now costs, on average, $25,000 more than it did in 2020. Now is the time to address the shortages nationwide, with bold action.

Alquist 3D is addressing just that. Alquist uses 3D printing technology to create exceptional design while lowering the cost of housing and infrastructure in economically distressed and under-served communities. 

“3D printing is a leading example of how we can drop the cost of housing and other infrastructure.” – Zachary Mannheimer, Founder & CEO, Alquist 3D

Rural communities, along with low-income urban communities, are struggling to build new residential units as the cost to build often does not offset the cost to sell. Demand continues to rise in smaller communities as populations increase due to an uptick in job creation, as well as an exurban migration, acceptance of tele-working, and the rising cost of urban living. 

Zachary Mannheimer, Founder & CEO, Alquist 3D, discusses how a pragmatic way to meet this demand is to identify a cost-effective way to build housing units for all walks of life.

“3D printing is a leading example of how we can drop the cost of housing and other infrastructure,” Mannheimer said.

Alquist has invested years of research into this new technology, partnering with printer manufacturer Black Buffalo 3D. Alquist’s partner company, Atlas Community Studios, has helmed rural revitalization and economic development projects in 27 different states. 

Atlas provides roadmaps for community revitalization, creating and building new businesses, child-care options, technological advancements, cultural centers, and marketing/incentive plans.

Through this work, Atlas has determined that the need in nearly every rural community is housing, leading to Alquist. Alquist plans to work in communities throughout the U.S. to develop new single family, multifamily, mixed-use, and senior living units. 

They’re also researching ways to build new roads, elevator shafts, retaining walls, and other traditional concrete structures using 3D printing technology.

Virginia communities were chosen as part of a grant received from Virginia Housing in partnership with Virginia Tech University to 3D the first owner-occupied home in the world. 

Richmond was chosen by the Housing Authority, and Williamsburg was chosen in order to work in a more rural community in partnership with the local chapter of Habitat for Humanity.

“When you think of a 3D printed home, your mind conjures up different shapes and curved walls, and we can certainly do that,” Mannheimer said. “But these first homes were designed to look like a traditional home on purpose, in order to help bring this technology into the forefront as a typical service, but more importantly to fit the home into the neighborhoods where it will live.”

A study by Virginia Tech, found that 3DCP homes use 50% less energy than a stick built home. Additionally, these homes have little to no waste on site.

As concrete is harmful to the environment, they have started to invest in using and creating hempcrete. 

The target buyer is those seeking affordable housing and the price ranges are typical, but they aim to be lower than a normal market rate home. The homes range from 1,200 to 1,500 sq ft.

The home comes with its own personal 3D printer, built into the kitchen with the goal of printing other interior items out of multiple materials.

EarthCraft Virginia Certified Home features the following verified products:

  • Energy Star Appliances
  • High Performance HVAC w/ Programmable Thermostat
  • Whole House Dehumidification
  • Enhanced Floor, Wall & Ceiling Insulation
  • LED Lighting
  • Water Sense Plumbing Fixtures
  • Integrated Smart Home Environment Monitoring by: Virginia Tech’s proprietary Building Data Lite (BDL) monitoring system
  • IBHS Fortified/Sealed Roof Certification
  • Standard Building Products

For more information, visit www.alquist3d.com.

Aurielle Weiss is the Editor of Builder and Developer Magazine. She may be reached at aurielle@builder.media.

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