A 3D Print-Out You Could Call Home

Using concrete and giant printers, home building may one day be much faster and cheaper.

Comments: 113

  1. While the prospect of being able to build functional homes more affordably is appealling, I worry that the proliferation of such structures could put undue strain on existing systems of waste management, energy delivery, critical services, and infrastructure. Strategic forethought in civil engineering, urban planning, and land management will become even more crucial as this trend takes off.

  2. @Greek Goddess do you mean that any structures would add to the civic infrastructure load such as in new subdivisions requiring drainage, water supply, sidewalks, schools, and roads. That is a given, and is part of the planning and zoning, usually a multiyear investment for land developers engaging with governments. But maybe you mean to extend this technology to 3-d print water supplies, drainage, water treatment, roads and schools. That really would be a higher order of engineering vision.

  3. Too often this has been done in a way that is heavily subsidized - in the long run. Check out the “Growth Ponzi Scheme” via Strong Towns USA. There are solutions and we must embrace them as we embrace new efficient building. Sprawl costs!

  4. @Jerry I meant that the proliferation of 3-D-printed homes may more quickly strain systems due to the low cost of using 3-D technology. Your idea of extending 3-D technology to the systems themselves was not part of what I meant, though I wish it were--it's brilliant.

  5. Concrete usage is a major contributor to global warming, and there are no secondary carbon savings in transportation, processing, etc. we are far better off sticking with wood framing. (just because you CAN do something DOESN'T mean you should).

  6. I think this technology is very impressive. However, we do need to develop alternatives to concrete. It is a very energy intensive material to manufacture and transport. I can appreciate its utility in the prototype phase. However, we need better alternatives in the long run.

  7. @eric - "geopolymers" - whatever they are - are mentioned in the article. People building these places know that concrete is energy-intensive.

  8. As president of Madco3d a full scale three d printing company and as an architect we very much share your concerns. There is an answer. Our process uses Magnesium oxide cement (or MOC) and it differs greatly from the Portland commonly used in the industry precisely because it produces no off gassing of CO2. It consists of nothing more than sand a salt water solution and magnesium (surprisingly these are the three most common elements found on our planet) this is not a new technology and in fact is the type of cement used in the Great Wall of China. We believe this is fundamentally different enough from Portland that yes,we can save the world provide shelter for the homeless and create a major paradigm shift from what is considered normal construction today Good well balanced article on the current state of full scale 3d printing

  9. And where will all the trades go for jobs? If we're not careful, we will turn into something like Egypt, with half our population unemployed and a military dictatorship needed to keep order. The short-sightedness of this kind of technology is truly frightening. You'd think by now we would have learned to consider consequences of technologies that put whole sectors of the economy out of work. This same lack of foresight gave us Trump.

  10. @Tonia Moxley, how do you arrive at those dire conclusions? Are you saying that innovation should be avoided altogether? As the Texas contractor noted, you still need bathrooms, cabinets, etc., which depend on tradespeople. And these systems still require a lot of people to supply the materials and operate on-site. Given the severe housing shortages worldwide, why not try to reduce construction costs?

  11. @Tonia Moxley "The short-sightedness of this kind of technology is truly frightening." Well, vaccines and other breakthroughs contributed to countless lives being saved. Now we have to figure out how to make the earth increase in size just to sustain the consequences of those shortsighted advances.

  12. @Tonia Moxley Do you have any idea how expensive it is to get good work in the building trades done? Even in economically depressed areas, it's still $90/hr for a plumber or electrician - and that's after they charge $150 just to show up. You have to beg them even to come. American don't want these jobs anymore, in the northeast we don't have immigrants that want the work, and thus we have an affordable housing crisis.

  13. The designs cut both ways for me: Like little pods one would find in nature, but also somehow like wasps nests from another planet. I'd like us to keep human hands and human heads in the process of fitting unique constructions to unique topography, climate, and resources. In Ireland, teach people to make Irish cottages out of local materials. Our indigenous ancestors knew how to build well in sustainable ways. I live in Oregon, and our "local materials" are shipped to china for cutting and planing, as we trade our forests for bare hills, pesticide residue and soil erosion. Local, contextual, sustainable designs, mated with skills housed in human heads and hands. Wait...am I describing the distant past? Perhaps because I'm rather concerned about what may lay in store for all of earth's creatures in the not-so=distant future.

  14. @Joe Wolf Cross-laminated timber is one of reasons our hillsides in Oregon are scraped bare. No longer willing to wait for stands of trees to truly mature, pencil-thin trees are chopped down in short rotation and glued together with other inferior lumber. Whatever the process may do for the building profession, it is further decimating our coastal watersheds in a fast-grab of crop trees that do not store as much carbon as their harvest emits. And in the process, the earth is beat to a muddy pulp.

  15. I’ll stick with factory built mobile homes that are roomy, comfortable, and reasonably priced.

  16. How about designing homes that are useful as we grow old. We need homes that we can stay in as we grow older - not have to climb steps to get to a bedroom or that can be converted at some point to a smaller house with an ADU unit for rental income then converted back if sold to a single family. Having affordable building cost and relatively fast building time is great but land cost will still be a huge stumbling block an our continued desire for SFR needs to change especialyy in cities and towns where the infrastructure - roads sewers power lines are already in place. those who chose to live in lower density areas think infrastructure cost is free or expect it to be free - yet they are usually the ones who smear "socialism" .

  17. @World foodie You don't need a home as you get older - you need a room in a community with medical, food and other services - not to mention companionship.

  18. @Ned Would you live there? I do not think I would desire to live in one room with joint other rooms. Or a small efficiency flat inside a big building. I live in a retirement community, in a duplex that I own. As long as I can get the grass cut, outside maintenance done, a community pool, and a community building to socialize in, I am happy.

  19. @Joyce Benkarski , that's a lot of luxury ifs, Joyce

  20. 3D printing is an exciting idea when applied to the problem of building homes in a cost efficient manner. However I believe new technology is better utilized when it solves a real problem rather than providing a radically different way of doing something. Building four walls and a roof efficiently is something we've gotten very good at over thousands of years. Processes need time to evolve in order to work the kinks out. You jump to an entirely new method and you throw all that learning and experience away. So start slow, and figure out how this technology can augment traditional methods by doing less sexy stuff, like front steps, or bulkheads. Then it can be applied to larger applications gradually.

  21. Something old is new again. Thomas Edison experimented with molded concrete housing at the beginning of the twentieth century. The molds were re-usable and concrete, a very viscous material, was pumped in through the top. Sorta a low-tech 3D printer. Once again, the man is shown to be a genius way ahead of his time.

  22. @Jimmy People have been making molded concrete structures since 6500 BCE.

  23. It is interesting how people jump on the next big thing, without stepping back for a moment to think about the implications, or knock-on effects, of this thing is. Even when they’re well-known and rather obvious. In this case, I feel a need to point out that the cement industry is one of the largest producers of CO2, and cement is incredibly difficult to recycle.

  24. @EMM While I agree with your environmental concerns, very often you need to take baby steps before you can walk. If you attempt too much innovation at once, you will never take that first step. You need to have a growth mentality where failure is accepted and not just always focus on the negatives. No one is building Levittown with these methods at this point.

  25. Did you even read the whole article or just skim a couple if points. They addressed the environmental issues of regular concrete. In some cases by it being used more efficiently, or less impactful types such as the geo polymer in one project, in others the combined use of local materials such as agricultural waste ( husks and shells) etc.. etc.

  26. @EMM But have you noticed that the article mentions these 3D building companies are also experimenting with different materials--some that are even waste materials being recycled?

  27. Will it print the insulation, the wiring, the duct work, the plumbing, and all the other systems necessary for a home to work? What about the foundation, particularly in cold climates where the foundation needs to be below the frost line. Building the frame is only the first part of home building.

  28. @Hastings There should be no issue stubbing in the plumbing, wiring and ductwork up through the slab foundation, which would need to be supported b some sort of pillar system extending below the frost line. I'm sure if they have gone this far with these all of those issues have been thought through. Not like they have gone though all of this trouble and development only to realize, hey we forgot about plumbing, wiring, etc. I mean, seriously, man, c'mon now.

  29. @Hastings , The substructure( foundation) is dictated by; soil conditions, depth of the frost line, topography and the design of the superstructure (the building) above. Appurtenances ( waste lines, water, HVAC,) electrical and computer, phone lines are also driven by the buildings design. All of this is overseen by engineers, state and national building codes and the local building inspector. Think of this as , 3d printing, just a new tool.

  30. @Hastings No unhealthy insulation materials needed when building solid walls (whether concrete, adobe, straw bales, etc). I recall that people got sick when some cheap (i.e. cost-cutting) synthetic insulation was used in walls using A-frame construction. Pumice is the best material to consider, as it provides great insulation

  31. Great application for remote regions albeit, perhaps various materials should be applied pending environment.

  32. Exciting. I have got to go see the one in Garrison. There are panelied (not modular) houses and other dwellings with walls which come already wired, etc, and I wonder if there is a 3d app for that form pf building. Am not longer up to speed on this sort of thing, so it's possible that those manufacturers already incorporate some of the 3 D approaches. One major obstacle: the slow and change resistant zoning laws in each community. So often the desire is still for a 19th Century house, but it is 2020 (alsmost) when we need well designed, energy conserving designs, with smaller footprints, so as to leave more outside space. And we need innovative designs for people with low to middle incomes.

  33. Building a 3D printed home could become energy efficient by Incorporating Solar collectors into the material used for "printed homes" either on their roof or in their walls which would help a lot with the utility needs for the homes. Water could be obtained by collecting the rain from the roof and recycling it for use as the old cisterns in farmhouses did. This low-cost building construction could save the owners even more by decreasing their utility bills. This would also be helpful out of this world (Mars or the Moon) if it rains there.

  34. @Joyce Benkarski : I agree with you about the benefits of solar collectors and water collection. However, the Moon's gravity is too weak to retain an atmosphere, and so whatever water arrives on the moon (through meteorite collisions) quickly evaporates. Similarly, Mars had running water a long time ago, but it doesn't anymore; whatever water is retained is in its polar ice caps.

  35. @Joyce Benkarski Exactly! This kind of construction would address energy production via solar (imagine getting rid of all those electrical lines that can ignite fires). I've been advocating for this kind of housing construction (along with shipping containers, tiny houses, etc) since I first came across it 2 years ago. With our lack of affordable housing problems, why is this not front page & discussed widely? Ya' think the housing construction industry has something to do with this---as in why tell people they can build a 500 sq ft house for $10K when we can gouge them for $300K. I'm a great believer in building villages, not mega mansions. Imagine a village 3D printed complete with town square, veggie garden area, a bakery, a grocery market, & all sorts of free-enterprising craftsmen setting up shop, etc? Let's build communities, for a change. Much like all those video games focused on building towns, let alone civilization---but this one fo real. Also, one of the best materials to use instead of concrete is PUMICE--natural, derived from volcano ashes, highly insular, impervious to mold, etc. Just have a look at a pumice stone (used for food care) & you'll get an idea of what it is.

  36. @cassandra A friend of mine was a WW2 veteran. While occupying Italy, his unit built small houses from the volcanic rock in their neighborhood. It was as you describe: light, insulating, and easy to work. Unfortunately, the unit commander didn't like the locals. He ordered the houses demolished when the unit moved out.

  37. Thank you NYT for covering this innovative technology and how it is being applied. We have a lot to learn but it has to start somewhere. Interesting!

  38. I completely agree that the technology is amazing, and the design is also talked notch. In fact, i can hardly wait to see these houses in person. However, what I hope is that the political class learned its lessons from the previous waves of technological innovation, and develop educational programmes to support those that will lose their jobs. It is imperative, as we have seen from the rise of populism, to develop economic solutions for these emerging inequalities before they occur.

  39. @DavidB Your fear of losing jobs is well-founded. Watch the PBS Frontline documentary on AI. That should really frighten you. But remember that losing a job is worse when you no longer have a roof over your head. And as another commenter posted, there are new avenues of income that will emerge as new forms of affordable housing are developed. The first problem of society is: how to promote opportunities for people to have a dignified quality of life, on a daily basis, and one that is free of penury, debt service, and indentured labor.

  40. just one glaring issue - single family homes is a luxury design. that's a fail. urban planning is the only future.

  41. @ndv It's better to start small and learn, rather than big and expensively--that would be a fail. Plus, these structures are very far from being suitable for large buildings--from the looks of them, they would not support millions of pounds of structure above them. But with time and study, who knows?

  42. @ndv You mean a brand new construction technique isn't yet suitable to build literally any type of structure and is instead starting with smaller homes? How unacceptably horrible! How foolishly unwoke of these engineers!

  43. My wife and I have checked in on the various pre-built approaches to more efficient construction of houses. We've always wanted to live in a modern style house, but even with all the approaches, the price never comes down significantly. It always comes in above $200k before you have land and hookups. If someone can find a way to get $80 per square foot or less then we could get what we want: 1500 sqft + land + LEED certificate + hookups = $150,000 total, all in a crisp modern style tucked away in verdant Vermont. If 3D printing the house gets us there then, by all means, keep developing the technology.

  44. Beyond the other environmental considerations shared here, what kind of-off gassing will be produced by these products? Being in an enclosed dwelling surrounded by plastic compounds makes me more than a little worried. We've been sold a bill of goods on the supposed inert/harmless compounds associated with plastics, yet bisphenols, phthalates, etc. are all associated with health threats. Is this a concern with these kinds of materials used in the 3-D printing process?

  45. These are not "3D printed homes." They are shells. So you've just spent $10,000 on a shell of a studio apartment (which is what the 500 square foot TERA is) — you'll spend another $20-30,000 finishing it: sewer and water, electric, HVAC, insulation, doors, windows, floors, appliances. This all seems very cool, but the reality doesn't line up with the dream.

  46. @Elizabeth A And so—all told—if it cost even $50k, it would be $550k less than what I paid for my apt. Ask bank which they would be more likely to finance: a $50k mortgage or a $600k mortgage.

  47. @Elizabeth A A home to be purchased and fitted out for $40k? Why would that not be a dream becoming a reality?

  48. Maybe we should concentrate on producing smaller humans, say hobbit-sized, then these structures could be McMansions.

  49. @stan continople Good one!!! Now that's creative thinking.

  50. The reason why we "rarely find anymore" solid masonry interiors is that no one likes to live in a sterile, cold echo-chamber. That's why virtually all new construction uses drywall as interior finish. You just can't beat gypsum for versatility and 'softness'. These concepts are cool - especially for insta-able airbnb Experiences - but can you 3D print basic mechanical systems such as electrical conduits and plumbing pipe? Saving construction workers from death on the job site by eliminating their jobs is just insulting. Make the guys homeless, then "donate" them a magic 3D 360 SF concrete cave - maybe they can stay busy by building that wood-frame joist system that somehow didn't get counted as work, as volunteers, naturally. Architects and bankers and some contractors have been fantasizing about eliminating all that pesky labor since the dawn of time. The only solution that ever really worked was slavery.

  51. Reminds of Bucky Fullers geodesic dome homes of the past. (some kits are still being manufactured) Easily assembled but a nightmare to finish out, furnish and weather proof. Try to fit rectangles in a sphere. And neighbors may not be so neighborly about the new look on the street.

  52. The most immediate and broad effect of 3-D printers is likely to be that everyone can print a gun or other weapon, one not registered and composed of material undetectable by metal detectors.

  53. There's no problem at all in building small energy efficient homes or in finding customers for them. The problem is finding a place to put them as cities screech like wounded owls that homes with low square footage will ruin their tax base. Only McMansions on Megalots permitted.

  54. The most immediate and broad effect of 3-D printers is likely to be that everyone can print a gun, the plans for which easily obtainable on the internet. No registration, No metal detector parts necessarily. More Silicon Valley "progress" and "disruption."

  55. In architecture school, I studied several technological "breakthroughs" that promised more affordable housing, based on free-standing small homes. None of them have had a meaningful impact, nor should they. The free-standing home is a significant contribution to global climate change. New York City is densely settled, but most Americans live in suburban sprawl and drive long distances to work, shop, and socialize. What we really need is a cultural and political breakthrough to support building livable cities at reasonable densities.

  56. @NeilG You already see this in many parts of Western Europe. Lots of semi-detached hoods with houses close together, then green space. I wouldnt call them "cities" though. The real issue is the giant human population all over the planet but no one ever wants to talk about that. All that needs to happen for what you want to see is a very extended fuel crisis. Folks wont be able to afford to drive their cars everywhere around the suburbs and folks will flock to live closer to metro hubs. Who knows when exactly that will happen but it seems inevitable.

  57. It all comes down to design, the 3d printer is a tool. Frank Lloyd Wright came up with "textile homes" homes in the 1920's that were based on concrete blocks that could be knitted together. This concept was refined for his "Usonian Automatic" allowing the homeowner to manufacture his own blocks to build his own home. The 3d printer is a tool, just like the computer, or a hammer. Great design starts in the mind, before translation to working drawings.

  58. These first attempts are a fascinating glimpse into the future but they are not at all practical in their very vertical and often round state. More akin to a small tree house. And the windows in several look like they may not open? Then there's the issue of plumbing and venting with no basement -- so all of that has to be external to the house (that means no winter climates) or carved into the foundation. Very experimental.

  59. It looks spacey, modern and the setting is nice, but typical? More likely stacked like present cement cubicle apartments surrounded by parking lots---but more importantly, is it sustainable? With excess human numbers, sustainability now has to be our first question going forward---for practically everything. Am I being too cynical? Maybe, but I wish more people had been cynical about our numbers, oil, and the environment, a hundred years ago.

  60. Wow! Cool Stuff! Altho' the use of environmentally damaging concrete needs to be addressed, no matter how "fine-tuned" the mix might be. Conventional construction techniques would be a lot less environmentally damaging with more attention given to site management. Homeowners/architects should meet w/ their contractors, determine the minimum amount of space needed to construct the building and erect temporary fencing that eliminates lot degradation outside the fence. Off-site, modular construction produces much less non-recycled waste (from the right factory, or course).

  61. The experiment just outside of Austin is a good example of how municipalities will stifle innovation, because of their regulations and permit processes. How long will it take city and town regulators to adjust to this new technology and update it's permit processes accordingly? When a new technology emerges, what interests will fight back as a threat to their $ livelihood (like the petrol industry lobbying against alternative energy). There will be no stopping these new construction methods, it is just a matter of time.

  62. As I read this, I couldn't help but wonder why they are not using hempcrete, which has far less of a carbon footprint than traditional concrete. I think hempcrete is the future of building materials.

  63. This doesn't explain how it is cheaper or better than using molds, or traditional construction methods. 200-mph winds are not as strong as tornadoes or some hurricane winds, so I would not want to live in one.

  64. I always wonder when reading articles like this if the $10,000 includes things like plumbing and electrical. These are small houses if plumbing and electrical aren't included in the $10,000 I wonder how cost-efficient these units actually are... Also, there are the cost and headaches of permitting non-standard dwellings. And finally how easy will it be to maintain and modify these dwellings 20 years from now? Most houses are built with a 150-year lifespan and being able to modify, repair and maintain the plumbing and electrical is important. I suspect that there are these kinds of issues, and would like to see them addressed.

  65. Would have been nice to see the interiors of these structures.

  66. It would be great if they could grind up some of our ubiquitous plastic waste and include it in the mix

  67. "construction methods that have remained fundamentally unchanged for more than a thousand years. " Um...no.

  68. 3D printing is overhyped. You end up with an object made of a single material that may be totally unsuited for your use and many of the details in complex objects are unattainable with the "printer". In this instance this is just a way to pour concrete. The suggestion that an autonomous robot will roam Mars mining basalt and manufacturing the material for printing buildings is silly. Perhaps if the entire human race devoted all of our resources to the endeavor we could one day support a miniscule colony on Mars, but their lives would be extremely limited in nearly every way with no chance of becoming normal by any reasonable standard.

  69. Those houses... To quote a fictional notable when seeing something awesome, "I want to go to there."

  70. How durable are these structures, especially considering climate change?

  71. "An efficient use of materials and the automated labor should drive down the cost of home construction." Yeah and when no one has jobs anymore, due to AI/Automation, who has the money to buy anything, much less a house? "Motivated by the national crisis in affordable real estate" Hogwash! There is exactly zero shortage of affordable housing all over America, and the world for that matter. If you choose to live in downtown NYC, SF, LA, et al. then you're going to pay through the nose. Otherwise there's plenty of cheap housing everywhere. And a lot cheaper than the 240K they're talking about. If they can't make these places for less than 50 grand than it's pointless.

  72. @Halsy You really ought to get out and see what is out there. It's not affordable, except where there are no jobs or reasonable commutes. Then there are difficulties living in food deserts and areas with horrible schools no medical care. Or rural areas with no cell connection and lowest speed DSL internet. Many things combine to make the places one needs to live unaffordable.

  73. Another gimmick by Jason Ballard. No thanks. Ballard also created the failed Treehouse company. The house remodel side of Treehouse was a complete disaster and there are homeowners (including ourselves) that are still not done with remodel projects over a year after Treehouse announced they were going out of business. Treehouse also initially had a 'wow' and 'cool' factor too but homeowners were left holding the bag often having to pay again for other contractors to finish and correct the work that Treehouse's inept sub-contractors bungled. Beware of Ballard's latest company iteration.

  74. Oh, great. Another way to screw workers.

  75. This is fascinating but those horizontal balcony railings on the Haines house give me heart palpitations. Every toddler I know would be trying to climb those and fall over the edge.

  76. If the printer jams up, do I end up having to live in a closet?

  77. The use of the word ‘print’ in the context of housing seems incorrect. We need to come up with something else. A house which is ‘extruded’, maybe?

  78. Brilliant! Affordable Homes for the homeless & next generation - one of the biggest issues out here right now. The idea we can only build homes out of 2'x4's & drywall is...like saying we all need to drive our own cars 4Ever! Autonomous vehicles & 3D printing are two of the greatest technology leaps in the past century. Along with LED bulbs!

  79. @kckrause - There are all sorts of great ideas for for building cheap and efficiently and they have been around for millennia and I'm not sure how much more helpful a 3D printer will be for putting a roof over a homeless person. It might be better just to use a 2D printer and make some money for them.

  80. Another shiny thing to distract people from the real problems. Regulation, abusive zoning, vested interests and the most virulent obstacle, fashion. Cheap housing can be achieved with standard construction methods and pre-fabricated units, but starchitects poo-poo all that and the various reviewers go along. Local officials, even when they're not being malevolent, put in requirements around fire truck access and utilities that make dense neighborhoods almost impossible outside the existing urban landscape. This is the wrong answer to the wrong question.

  81. 45 years ago ANT FARM used Ferro Cement tech to build the House Of The Century south of Houston, Texas. I wonder if printing could have helped them in the construction of the awrad winning design?

  82. 240K such printers operating 24 hpd could accommodate 600M coastagees & parchees by 2120 CE. Commestibles can be cranked out same way. Gunports optional...

  83. Nice! But where are the indoor pictures?

  84. @ELM asking the same question.

  85. Aren't we running out of sand, for concrete?

  86. Mind boggling to this 80 year old! Who knew?

  87. I'm not sure many people are going to want to live in a concrete yurt. People are still going to want lay outs that have existed for year (a kitchen, a common area, sleeping areas, etc). Hopefully 3D printing will assist in building homes wish to buy, at a reasonable price.

  88. We need to avoid concrete in order to save our environment. It's a fun seeming idea but it really doesn't address the problems that we need to address. Give us an article about how to get rid of plastic or better yet a new product that does plastic has been doing. That would be something that would make me excited. Show me a house that can be built simply without increasing our carbon footprint. Cement is something that doesn't recycle, and doesn't help our earth.

  89. @Leslie relax, carbon capture will obviate hysteria of carbon footprints. there are dozens of other such mechanisms in play. but, one thing is absolutely certain: if there were zero carbon footprints, nothing will change with the climate/weather. nothing. zero, nada, niente, zilch. 800,000 years of global climate/weather have had hundreds of cooling/heating periods....................................and the globe still keeps trucking along, now polar bear population exploding, more food being produced than people to eat it, etc. man is pretty smart but the globe knows better. a curious historical fact, the deadliest hurricane ever recorded, (a short history indeed), was in 1780 in the caribbean. 27000 people died. ships exploded with the force of the storm. fallen trees had their bark ripped off. and yet, the population of the world was @700 million. the population of the usa was @2.5million. and most interestingly, the internal combustion engine had not even been invented, ie. no cars, zero, no planes, zero, no lawn mowers, zero, no trucks, zero. relax, the globe is aok, (but for china and india, both of them olympian polluters, polluters yes but even they can't change the climate/weather.

  90. @Leslie Even better, a house built from recycled plastics. A problem with recycling business is the the poor prices for recycled plastics. Research to convert used water bottles, plastic bags, etc into building products would help this problem and prevent the plastics from contaminating the environment. It would also help stretch the supply of petrochemicals. Crude oil is abundant, even excessively so, at the moment. A decade or so from now, it won't be at all. For investors looking at the latest quarters result, a decade or so is a long time. In the scale of developing a new technology, it is not.

  91. I actually saw a video on Facebook about this project. It was some graduate college students who been doing this for a few years. They pretty much experimenting by building homes of every size. They stated that the cost just to print a house is about $10,000 or more. That means mortgages would take only about 5-10 years to pay off. However, tiny homes also are future projects which are now popular. Tiny homes are still kind of expensive but they create space for people who do not want a big house. Now, I did read that people are concerned about the automation. Yes, even Yang indicated this. However, as technology progresses so will people loosing jobs to new technology. This is something no one can avoid. However, going back to school is the other option to hire workers to handle the printing machines. In a way, we are still going to need people with a background in construction or architect. We have to start just realizing the changes and try to adapt. I also noticed people saying this will effect the environment. I do not think that is the case. Houses are basically recycled, meaning other people can move into the house if they do not wish to go through the process of trying to buy land to build the house on. Think about it, we do that today. The only way it will become a issue is if the house becomes condemned. However, building concrete houses eliminates having to demolish houses which actually causes environmental issues.

  92. 20 years ago I visited homes Habitat for Humanity designed low - cost houses for Haiti. The American house designs were terrible. A flat root is a must, but they designed domes incapable of water capture or providing a needed roof patio.. kitchens must not be in the back away from Latrines, but they put them there, etc. I'm glad to see sustainability and local culture being incorporated in these new designs.

  93. When a Texas builder tells you using the 3D printing method will cost $100 to $160 per square foot before "flooring, sinks, cabinets, plumbing and electrical fixtures", he's saying the total cost of building approaches national standards of about $200 per square foot for traditional construction in many parts of the country. Higher end construction, which these prototypes approach, costs more. Granted, build time is shorter and as technology improves, costs could go down. Still, it's a fascinating technology and I personally love the egg-shaped pod.

  94. I'm sure one day we will be printing buildings as big as our egos and maybe that might be something good but I don't think it will erase any of the problems related to housing we see today which really have little to do with technology. I'm an engineer and at a certain level these new ideas interest me but I think it is better thought as a seasoning rather than a flavor.

  95. If you want to live in a massive flower pot.

  96. Please fill those 3D Printers with fireproof materials and bring them to California!

  97. Or, "All the New Houses That Are Printed to Fit".

  98. When wishes are houses, the homeless will sleep inside.

  99. Is the thing in the picture a house to live in? If yes, I would rather sleep unter the stars and nourish myself by food cooked on camp fire.

  100. @Tuvw Xyz "This 24-foot-high, 500-square-foot, two-story construction will have a sleeping pod, a bathroom with a shower, a study area and other amenities you might expect from a cool short-term rental. In fact, it will be a cool short-term rental, as well as a demonstration of the future of home building." Reading is fundamental.

  101. Residential home building techniques are ridiculously antiquated. It’s not uncommon for the process to take a whole year for a larger sized home. Then we pay for 30 years....

  102. Using concrete and giant printers, home building may one day be much faster and cheaper. "...faster and cheaper..." i.e. 75 percent fewer workers required.

  103. @teoc2 "...faster and cheaper..." Or, more affordable for the working person.

  104. Just a quibble: concrete doesn’t “dry,” it cures.

  105. @Clio Just another quibble -- concrete both dries AND cures. Cured concrete can still hold water, like a sponge, and that water can be dried out of the concrete.

  106. That $85 sf cost quoted in the NAHBA report can’t be correct (.show us real cost receipts and backup please) except if you are building incredibly cheap housing. If that number is correct, why isn’t there more affordable housing or is this just just a myth that the media believes.

  107. @Stephen Alicandro That cost does not include the cost of the land. The varying cost of real estate is the largest part of why housing is so expensive in some places, and not because they are building bigger houses (although many are, because they are wealthy enough to buy the land).

  108. Walls are easy, roofs not so. Let's see more study and innovation in roof structures

  109. These are beautiful! Can't we make them out of recycled plastic?

  110. Thank you for this fascinating article about which I knew nothing before. Hooray for TERA, and ICON and Because Community First! and Larry Haines. These are great looking structures as well as intelligent and environmentally conservative. Yes, roofs must be difficult but they always have been. And why can they not be added after the walls are printed and fastened into place like the tops of mason jars? Looking forward to watching this evolve. Leslie Armstrong, author, THE LITTLE HOUSE

  111. I like the design of TERA, which really asks what the material wants to do and goes from there. But ever since working with a 3D printer, I'm skeptical about the energy used and how wasteful it can really be. I can't help but think it would be better just to create a mold in this shape and use a concrete or recycled substance to build the shell instead of a robot arm. Or just mass produce these (already small) structures in a factory. As far as a real design critique, the TERA is the most interesting and livable structure out of all of these tiny shacks, but I'm also wondering if you could put three on site and connect them with bridges. I'm surprised it is only two stories too.

  112. Innovation is (almost always) interesting and the houses shown in this article are no exception. I'm especially encouraged by efforts to reduce or eliminate the use of unsustainable materials. The search for affordability, however, is incompatible with a single family house model. As noted below in another comment, the most significant cost in many areas is the land and not the construction. While I applaud efforts to address the affordability crisis, unless we take a hard look at the misguided goal that the only American way to live is in your own house, on your own plot of land, we can mess around with 3D printing all we want and barely a dent will be made in significantly addressing a growing crisis.