Are 3-D printed homes the way of the future?

University of Windsor, January 29, 2016 (Photo by Maureen Revait)

A team of researchers plan to build Canada’s first 3-D printed homes in a partnership with Habitat for Humanity Windsor-Essex.

Civil Engineering Professor Doctor Sreekanta Das, engineering graduate students, and laboratory technicians will 3-D print concrete segments on a large-scale industrial printer. They will test the segments for strength, sustainability, and durability before use in residential use.

They hope to have four homes built by April 1, 2022.

“Habitat for Humanity believes everyone has the right to a safe, decent affordable place to live,” said Habitat for Humanity Windsor-Essex CEO Fiona Coughlin.

It takes as little as three people to 3-D print a home. Construction is significantly faster, and the cost is far lower. Once perfected, construction could take just a few days. Das said it’s also more environmentally responsible because the greenhouse gas emissions are far less than what is generated by the traditional construction industry.

“Traditional concrete construction requires more materials,” he said. “Panels, usually made of wood, are used to create enclosures into which concrete is poured to form a mould. With 3-D printing, the need for panels is eliminated, eventually making construction much cheaper and faster.”

As of now, Canada’s building codes are not written with 3-D printing technologies in mind. One of the goals is to meet residential building code requirements and produce a precedent for future home construction across Canada.