What Material Is 3D Printed Houses Made Of?

Most Popular 3D-Printed Buildings and Their Material Mix

Massive 3D printers print massive 3D buildings. More and more companies are joining the market, 3D printing more and more homes. Do they use concrete? Whatever materials they are using to 3D print buildings what’s important is that the material used must blend design with adequate consistency and workability. For structural applications, this means a concrete base, consisting of cement, sand, and other additives, sometimes there are a few variants from the standard. The mix of components varies according to purpose and the 3D printer to be used. Here are some popular 3D printing construction projects and the materials used.

Worldwide 3D Printing Materials

For example, Apis Cor, a San-Francisco-based start-up makes mobile 3D printers that print self-supporting walls and partitions that use material extrusion technology. Their material mix consists of cement, sand, geopolymers, and fibers developed as extrudable concrete. Their 3D printer has an independent robotic arm which prints the structural components on-site. Once the walls were printed, they removed the printer with the help of a crane to install windows, appliances, and the roof. An example of their work is a residential home in Moscow, Russia – it took just 24 hours to complete.

Another start-up is COBOD which 3D printed the first building in Europe: The Building On Demand (BOD), located in Copenhagen. All its elements are curved, except for the windows and doors, and even the foundations were 3D printed. They developed a strong and sustainable concrete mix using recycled materials. The material delivery system consists of a mixing pump which automatically fills dry material mix from the mixer. Water is then added to the mix to keep the pump filled. In addition to 3D printing, they also use the printer as an on-site “crane” to place certain elements into the building.

WASP is an Italian start-up looking to provide 3D printed sustainable shelters at minimum costs using naturally available local materials. They 3D printed the new eco-sustainable house, the Gaia. Their material mix consisted of soil, rice fibers and lime. They mixed this material thoroughly in a wet pan mill then extruded with the Crane WASP 3D printer. They printed a monolithic wall and finished with a shaving clay lamina and smoothed and oiled with linseed oils. The machine is a frame based gantry setup that prints the structural components in shorter lead times.

A China-based company, Winsun, developed its own construction 3D printer to print large scale building components at high speeds. They were able to 3D print ten houses within 24 hours. They build the structural components using a 120 x 40 x 20 feet frame based 3D printer. Components are generally printed in a factory, then transported and assembled on-site. Their mix consists of cement, sand, and fiber, along with a few additives to improve the buildability. Their mix produces zero waste and is also environment-friendly.