This year, increased prices for building materials again forced residents of Europe and the United States to think about alternative building options. Cost increase caught off guard both ordinary buyers and business. The increase in prices for fittings entailed a chain reaction to other items. Unfortunately, at least in the coming year we should expect only further price increases.
Corporations, private entrepreneurs and just people willing to buy their own housing hope to see cheap alternatives. How did the construction sphere evolve in the world when the era of printed houses arrived, and whether the “classic” new buildings should expect a complete replacement?
Technology and Construction
The development of construction is inextricably linked to human evolution. Caves were the first houses, but with the advent of primitive tools, primitive man learned to erect wooden structures. The invention of new technologies made it possible to create more complex devices for construction. Thanks to the furnace, we learned to create clay, and then burn brick.
In the 20th century, US residents thought about building the first skyscrapers. However, brick turned out to be too heavy for the foundation, and the stairs were no longer suitable for construction. Then humanity switched to cement and reinforced concrete, simultaneously creating lifts and towers cranes.
A big leap in the evolution of technology occurred during and after World War II. France and Russia faced the need to provide quickly housing for disadvantaged people. The need stimulated engineering thought, which was embodied in panel houses. At the same time, in the 1950s, Richard Fuller thought about how to give the post-war America affordable housing. The idea was embodied in fast-moving light domed houses. However, innovative technology only gained popularity in the 70s. Today a group of five people is able to build independently for themselves cheap spherical housing or buy a polystyrene design office.
The technology of arceless arch construction also appeared in the 1950s thanks to Peter Panderson. Initially oriented for the needs of the US Army, afterwards this development found application in “civilian” areas. Construction of warehouses, vegetable storage facilities, retail outlets, stadiums and other structures occur six times faster than the “classical” method.
The development of the construction sphere is inextricably linked with the evolution of not only man, but also technology. Needs and desires are driving scientific progress.
3D printing in civil industries
Contrary to other developments, the driver of the development of 3D printing was not a request from the state or military circumstances. The technology appeared in the mid-80s and was called “stereolithography.” The first printers printed small factory parts on three-dimensional digital data. However, the development potential was assessed in industry, medicine, food and construction sectors.
In 2014, a multi-store house was first printed in Shanghai. Then the technology was picked up all over the world. For three years, fast-moving eco-friendly structures appeared in California, Dubai, and Stupino.
Today 3D printing reduces up to 60% of material consumption, up to 70% — construction time and 80% of the workforce. For construction, construction rubble, industrial waste, cement and hardener are used.
It would seem that in the use of 3D printing there are only pros — less material costs, higher speed and environmental assistance through waste recycling. Unfortunately, so far technology cannot be called customer friendly. Machines cost a colossal amount that crosses out savings on materials and salaries of builders. However, the time of construction remains extremely low, with high industrial quality. It is no coincidence that the Emirates plan by 2035 to transfer 25% of the buildings to 3D printing. With the development of technology, we will get more printers that are available. Returning to history, until 2006, devices cost started from $50 thousand, while today they are available on marketplaces for 20 thousand rubles.
In Russia, the technology is already working, but so far only privately. GOSTs (State Standards) and SNIPs (Construction Norms and Rules) do not allow constructing high-rise buildings, but do not impose restrictions on 1–2-story structures of any shape.
Who needs innovations?
The first electric cars appeared in 1824, and in 1900 in the United States 38% of cars had electric motors. It would seem that non-polluting technology with high potential should have captured the entire niche. However, today Tesla electric cars poorly compete with “classic” titans such as Mercedes Benz or BMW.
The same is valid for the construction sector. Despite the appearance of monolithic, panel houses many buyers still prefer to build from brick or wood. Even if 3D technology becomes much more affordable, buyers will not rush to buy printed houses for themselves.
The development of technology requires the demand and support of the state. Innovation get wide use with plenty of difficulties. Today there are already both technologies and free land to provide affordable housing for the population of Russia. However, so far I have not heard people during direct lines with the president to ask questions like “when will we start building 3D houses?” or “why we do not print dwellings in villages?»
Whereas many questions are concerning mortgage prices, the rise in price of building materials, new buildings. Housing status remains a crucial factor for technology progress. Until people stop wanting brick houses or live in apartments with monolithic walls, the state will not pay attention on technology.
By Vladimir Sokolov, CEO of Black Horse holding