Manufacturers have been working to automate the homebuilding process for years, and some startups have already released design prototypes. But until this year, none of these 3D-printed houses have been occupied. This summer, a family in France became the first to begin living in a 3D-printed home.
Engineers and manufacturers have been working to automate the homebuilding process for years, and some startups have already released prototypes of their designs. Until this year, however, nobody has lived in any of these prototypes.
Below, take a look at the building's construction process and photos of other startups' designs for 3D-printed homes.
Yhnova was printed in 54 hours, and contractors spent the next four months adding windows, doors, and the roof.
The home was developed by University of Nantes researchers. According to BBC, they believe the next 3D-printed home could be built in 33 hours.
Construction of the building cost about $232,000, which is 20% cheaper than a similarly sized building would usually cost, BBC reported.
The University of Nantes teamed up with the city council and a local housing association to create the house.
Francky Trichet, technology and innovation lead at the Nantes city council, told BBC that he is interested in 3D-printing more than just homes. For example, the technology could be applied to sports halls, he said.
Yhnova was partly funded by the Nantes city council.
A 3D printer was brought to the site of the house after a team of architects and scientists completed the design.
The device prints in layers going from the ground up. Each wall in the house is made of two layers of polyurethane, an insulator. The space between the layers is then filled with cement, creating a thick wall.
Yhnova was designed with wheelchair access, and all of its appliances can be controlled with a smartphone.
University of Nantes professor Benoit Furet, who is leading the project, told BBC he expects the 3D printing process to become much less expensive in a few years.
In five years, Furet said, building 3D homes will be 25% cheaper. As more houses are built and the technology improves, he expects the cost to be 40% cheaper a decade from now, all while adhering to building codes.
Furet said 3D printing is environmentally friendly and allows architects to be creative.
Architects can adjust a 3D-printed house's shape to the surrounding area. In Nantes, for instance, the house was built to curve around century-old trees on the property.
In addition, the home is equipped with sensors that monitor humidity, air quality, and temperature, all of which help reduce energy costs.
Furet said he hopes to build an entire neighborhood of 3D-printed homes next. According to BBC, Furet is working on an 18-house project in Paris and a roughly 7,500-square-foot commercial building.
Another group of developers is working on bringing 3D-printed homes to the Netherlands.
In a project led by Eindhoven University of Technology and its partners, five concrete houses are set to be built in the Dutch city of Eindhoven.
Project Milestone's first goal is to build a single-story house, after which the developers will focus on building homes as tall as three stories.
Business Insider previously reported that the Project Milestone team said 3D printing allows houses to be customized and reduces waste, as it requires fewer building materials.
A Nevada-based company is also printing houses, with plans for Bay Area customers to begin living in them in a few months.
The homebuilding startup PassivDom uses a robot to print the walls, floor, and roof of a new home, after which a human worker adds the windows, doors, plumbing, and electrical systems.
PassivDom will offer a few different models that vary in size and technical features. The houses do not need to connect to external plumbing or electrical systems, as solar energy is stored in a battery connected to the house. Water is collected from humidity in the air.
The company initially intended to deliver the first 100 homes to customers in January 2018, but founder and CEO Max Gerbut told Business Insider that production and development took longer than anticipated.
Gerbut said customers worldwide have requested more than 10,000 PassivDom units, and the company aims to be the first autonomous, self-sustainable home in the United States.
And in Chattanooga, Tennessee, architectural company Branch Technology is building its own prototype of a 3D-printed home.
Branch Technology uses machines to print the walls and roof of its model, which is called Curve Appeal. A construction crew then assembles the parts on-site.
Curve Appeal, designed to span 1,000 square feet, will include a bedroom, living room, and bathroom. The project is still in the research and development phase.
Branch's machines, unlike many 3D printers, do not build layer-by-layer. Instead, the robots create lattices that are filled with liquid foam and concrete. David Fuehrer, Branch's director of sales, said the the homes will be three or four times stronger than wood buildings because of this method.
After finishing the project, Branch plans on donating the home to Chattanooga State Community College, which will hold classes inside.