Over the past few years the 3D printing industry has proven to be far more innovative than many had initially hoped; while the consumer-based market has grown spectacularly, many start-ups and even established businesses are still focused on developing a wide range of new and exciting 3D printing solutions. The biggest challenge among them (in terms of size, that is) must surely be the 3D printed homes. While usually problematic because of the sheer size of the printer necessary, two American designers have found a simple solution to that problem: why not just 3D print a home in modular ABS parts?
Now at first this might sound like a bit of childish solution. After all, other initiatives for the 3D printing of homes rely on gigantic concrete 3D printers, not on our desktop toys. But as you can see in the photos above, the results are quite impressive. While still in the prototyping phase, Zachary Schoch and designer compatriot Eugene Lee have already managed to construct a modular ABS wall part that stands over 10 feet tall and was 3D printed in ABS.
Of course these parts are somewhat bigger than what you or I can produce with a regular desktop FDM 3D printer. For as Zachary explains on his blog, he relied on his Euclid 3D printer, which features a print area somewhat larger than most: over 1m x 1m x 1m (or 42"x42"x44"). Completing three 3D printed pieces in total for this prototype, which was exhibited at the 3D PrinterWorld 2015 in Burbank, California, they took just 18 hours to complete in high strength ABS filament.
As you can see, its modular, it easily fits together and it’s easy to transport. ‘It fit into one car and took about 10 minutes to setup including unloading,’ Zachary writes on his blog. Snapping these three parts together took less than a minute, so you can imagine how easy it is to do build a whole home with these parts. ‘Because these components are built from such high performance material they should be constructible by hand, or for larger and more structurally elements only minimal equipment would be required. This property allows for investment in higher performance printing facilities due to the low cost of transportation to the building site,’ he speculates.
Now you might wonder if hollo ABS structures are right for a home, but Zachary argues that the S-layout is perfect for basic structures and for expanding on the house’s features. ‘With this construction system there is no fundamental difference between the traditionally disparate elements of floor/wall/roof. In this instance the floor literally becomes the wall, and the wall becomes the roof/ceiling,’ he says. ‘Because the s-wall system is hollow, mechanical systems can be integrated directly into it. Piping for liquids could be installed readily after assembly using flexible tubing, or pipes could be printed integral to the s-wall. Ventilation ducts would also be printed integral to the unit with vents being able to be printed simultaneously as well, in the floors, wall or roof depending on the need.’
What’s more, the parts snap together in such a fashion to create a water-proof connection (as the tension element is placed below the compression element). Additionally, sealing material could be inserted into the cavity after assembly to finish the home. In short, this prototype could be the key to affordable, transportable and easily-assembled homes of the future. Can you imagine living in an ABS house?