How do you build a nice home without the internet?
For years, the answer was to hire a contractor to do it.
But then a new technology came along that can help you get it done.
The idea is to use the internet to build your house on the same day that you build it, a project called 3D printable prefabricated home.
“The idea was, let’s say I want to build my own home,” said Chris Taylor, the CEO of 3D printing company Shapeways, which developed the 3D printed prefab construction project.
“It’s like building a house from scratch, but it’s a completely 3D-printed house.”
Taylor and co. created an online platform called Shapeways’ Home Builder program.
Anyone can register for a free account and begin building a 3D printer.
The prefab building process includes laying out the materials for a single-family home.
Once a 3-D model of the home is complete, the builder will then assemble the entire house using a variety of materials, including the 3-d printed prefabs used in Taylor’s building.
Taylor says it takes around three weeks for the builder to build each 3-story house.
“The builder will get everything printed and then assemble it all,” Taylor said.
“Once they assemble it, it’s basically 3D made.”
The prefabs are then sent to Taylor’s company, Shapeways 3D Printing, where they’re assembled and shipped to the builder.
The prefab homes will be built on the Shapeways website and shipped directly to the homeowner.
Taylor said the project is designed to give 3D printers a leg up over traditional construction materials.
“When you start looking at building materials, the biggest thing is the price,” Taylor told Mashable.
“So you have to consider how much you’re paying to get that prefab out of the box.”
“I think the thing that’s kind of interesting is that the prices that we’re getting are the lowest prices,” he said.
Taylor expects to have the prefab houses built on time and on budget, which means that the construction process is very fast and efficient.3D printing technology is already being used in many construction projects, and Taylor believes the prefabs will be the first 3D prints of homes to be 3D built.
The technology has been in the spotlight recently, as tech giant SpaceX is working on an orbital vehicle that will launch and land on an asteroid, with plans to use it to build houses.
3D technology could help solve a problem with construction that is common to the construction industry: the cost of materials.
Taylor believes that if prefab projects can help build affordable homes for a fraction of the cost, the entire construction industry could be on the right track.
The 3D construction process uses an array of high-tech 3D scanning machines to create the prefables, which are built into the walls of the prefabe homes.
“This is a technology that we’ve never seen before,” Taylor says.
“You don’t have to go to a shop to do 3D.”
The 3D modeling process takes several days to complete, and the prefabis are printed in the homes in two or three days.
“That is a pretty rapid process,” Taylor explains.
The process uses a large 3D scanner to print prefab buildings, but the technology could be used to build smaller prefab structures, Taylor says, which could lower the cost and provide a much better finish.
“If we can take that technology and combine it with the technology that 3D makes, it could have a tremendous impact on the entire industry,” Taylor added.
The construction industry is already using 3D to build prefab housing in a number of projects.
In 2013, a company called Vail Resorts, which is based in Colorado, opened a 3DPrinting factory that used a 3DS scanner to build their first prefab apartment building.
Vail also built their first 2,400-square-foot condo building using 3DP printers in 2015.3DPrinted prefab apartments could eventually be used in a wide range of building projects, from home repair projects to big-name sports stadiums.
But for now, Taylor is concentrating on building houses.
“I really want to use 3D prefab to build homes that are very much like houses,” he says.
Taylor is working with Shapeways to create a 3d printed 3-floor house for a family of four, and is also looking to build three-story homes for people with disabilities.
“It’s really important that people who need a lot of space in their homes, who need something that’s built to their needs, can build a very beautiful home on the 3d printer,” Taylor tells Mashable, noting that many people can’t afford to pay the extra cost.
“A 3D building can save the day for these people.”