While they’re certainly not the first to engage 3D printers in the construction industry, Apis Cor (a company so tech obsessed, they even had a robot do the voice over for their video) are the first to print an entire house, in one go, on-site, with one machine and no further assembly required.
The ‘old-school’ of 3D printing
Tech is moving so rapidly nowadays, incredible things become outdated before you’ve even had a chance to be amazed by them. The original method of 3D printing for construction is now ‘old-school’ by Apis Cor’s standards. This technique involves a massive indoor rig that works in a rectangular coordinate system.
The rail track guides must be on the precise same plane as each other, otherwise the equipment will mess up the geometry of the construction or jam altogether. This means you need a perfectly level, solid surface which restricts these setups to the controlled environments of warehouses and factories.
Apis Cor’s approach to 3D printing
Apis Cor’s 3D printing rig is noticeably different. Rather than the grid setup with tracks, the printer head is on a boom supported by a single column. This allows the machine to be installed on-site as there is no need to match up the planes of two separate rails.
Setup and operation is as straightforward as you can get for the construction of an entire house:
And Apis Cor supplies the whole shebang, including:
- Their unique 3D printer;
- The software and control program to run it;
- An automated, mobile mix and supply unit for the concrete;
- A silo for storage of dry mixture.
To prove the power of their technology, Apis Cor teamed up with Pik Group—a Russian building company—to construct a specially designed house at their mysterious test facility south of Moscow.
They chose a deliberately complex design to showcase the machine’s skills, flexibility, and lack of limitations.
“The house can be of any shape, including the familiar square shape, because the additive technology has no restrictions on design of new buildings, except for the laws of physics.”
With graceful ease, the mechanical printer swept layers of concrete along the lines of the design to form the curves and angles of the house.
Humans stepped in once it was time to install the windows, door, fixtures, finishes and furniture. The whole thing, including the bright yellow paint job, was all done in a touch under 24 hours.
The house in the video would set you back a mere USD$10,000 (at current exchange rates, that’s around AUD$13,120). That’s half the price of one of Audi’s latest electric mountain bikes. And the most expensive part of the whole thing is the windows, door, fixtures and furniture. The foundation, walls, floor and roof make up less than half the cost combined.
With our capital cities taking out the top rankings for most expensive housing in the world, this technology could be a game-changer if we can get it in Australia.