As housing prices across the country continue to skyrocket, an Iowa-based company is looking to combat the crisis by 3D-printing homes.
The process is somewhat simple: First, a person designs what they want the frame of the house to look like by using a computer program. Then a file is transmitted to a machine, which tells it what to do and how to move.
On-site workers pour in cement material, then the concrete is pumped through the tubes and dispersed in layers.
“We believe in creating a community. That is our goal as a company, and it’s pretty hard to have a community if you don’t have anywhere to live,” said Zachary Mannheimer, founder and CEO of Alquist 3D.
According to Mannheimer, the area of southwest Virginia the company is targeting struggles with affordable housing.
In December 2021, the local Habitat for Humanity chapter was able to place a single mother in the first-ever owner-occupied 3D-printed house.
“When they said they can print the home this way … and said it should be faster, cheaper and safer, we got very excited,” said Janet V. Green, CEO of Habitat for Humanity’s Peninsula & Greater Williamsburg chapter.
With the help of Virginia Housing, Virginia Tech, and Alquist 3D, the single mom’s 167-layer home was built. The walls of the three-bedroom house were constructed in less than 30 hours, Green said.
“[She] will have a 30-year mortgage. The only difference between that and other mortgages is that hers is interest-free. It is more than half of what she was paying in rent, and that includes her real estate taxes and insurance,” said Green.
Alquist 3D’s CEO believes 3D-printing could be a game changer because it has the ability to cut costs by up to 15% by scaling back labor, materials and time. Although there are concerns about displacing traditional construction jobs, and some environmental impacts of this method, he says he is working to solve those issues.