A report suggests California-based Mighty Buildings is to 3D-print an entire community of homes.
The new housing development, to be located in Rancho Mirage, is billed as the “world’s first planned community of 3D-printed homes”.
Let’s stop right there. I’m quite suspicious of any 3D print-related claim involving the phrase “world’s first”, and especially when it’s connected to construction 3D printing, a niche area that’s had more than its share of questionable ventures.
However, this project might just work, and I think I can explain how.
Mighty Buildings is quite different from most construction 3D printer companies, which tend to offer a computer controlled concrete extrusion system. These can often competently produce a foundation and some walls, but nothing else. The remainder of the build project simply uses conventional construction trades and there’s only minor advantages overall to using 3D printing.
Mighty Buildings instead uses a factory approach. Instead of 3D printing the concrete onsite, they instead 3D print the solid portions at a central location where there’s no need for machine setup and teardown. Instead of actual concrete, the company uses proprietary “Light Stone Material” that’s cured with UV light. Once the material is deposited, they then tackle the remaining build activities while still at the factory.
Essentially, they build an entirely outfitted home in the factory, partly using 3D printing technology.
Once the home is complete, it’s placed on a truck and craned into place at the build site.
This is a very efficient method of producing a home because they’ve implemented constraints on the design and centralize everything possible. They can effectively use modern factory optimization techniques on products that are normally built in the field.
There’s another reason I have a belief this project could work: Mighty Buildings recently raised US$40M in investment. That cash should go a long way to assisting with the launch and completion of this ambitious project.
Mighty Buildings has previously been working with Palari Group, a developer in the area. However, it seems that their relationship has grown and now the two have patterned on this project. Between an experienced developer and an experienced home 3D printer, there should be sufficient expertise to complete the job.
The project intends on producing up to 15 homes, located on a five acre (2 ha) area. Each home is to be either 1,450 sf, or 2,150 sf with an optional additional module. The pricing of the homes is not available, but the idea is that pricing should be reasonable given the “40% less expensive” method of building.
To add to the 21st century feel, the homes are to be powered only by Tesla Powerwall installations, where the energy is derived from the sun.
This project will no doubt be closely observed. If it succeeds and is profitable for all concerned, then we could see a lot more business for Mighty Buildings. We could also see competitors appear using variations of Mighty Building’s process.
And a lot more people living in a 3D printed world. Literally.