2.1B in slums by 2050!
3D printing of homes and buildings is starting to get serious, and could well end up as the great global emancipator of one of humankind?s most stubbornly entrenched phenomena, slums.
All the affordable home construction for urban dwellers that can possibly be built between now and 2050 will be sorely needed in order to help with the greatest migration the world has ever seen: flight to the cities, which for the first time in human history sees most of the world?s population living in cities.
Thirty urban areas, the so-called mega cities (those with populations of 10M or more; the top 10 of which currently have in excess of 20M) will bear the brunt of this ongoing and massive migration. Eight of those top 10 are in Asia; the other two in North America. Those top 10 will also have the largest, most intractable slum problems.
Of a world population of 7B, some 3.6B are urban dwellers, 864M of whom (about 24.5 percent) live in slums. According to the United Nations? World Urbanization Prospect those 3.6B urbanites will nearly double to 6.3B by 2050, and slum dwellers will more than double to 2.1B.
Rapid rural-to-urban migration, economic stagnation and depression, high unemployment, poverty, poor urban planning, politics, natural disasters and social conflicts?the menacing hallmarks of slums?will grow more menacing and socially explosive as the slums continue to expand.
It may well be a case of pay me now or pay me later, where later might be too late. Fast, affordable 3D printing of living spaces may hold part of the solution for social change among the burgeoning slum-trapped populations.
On paper, 3D printing, a/k/a additive manufacturing, appears to have all the qualities of being the perfect antidote for replacing slums: the cost of construction materials is very inexpensive; labor, for the most part, is replaced by autonomous robots extruding raw materials into specific shapes, the end product of which, in this case living space, can be swiftly completed at a finished cost per dwelling that is quite modest: $4500 for 2100 square feet.
?The building industry is one of the most polluting and inefficient industries out there,? says Hedwig Heinsman of DUS Architects (Amsterdam). ?With 3D-printing, there is zero waste, reduced transportation costs, and everything can be melted down and recycled. This could revolutionize how we make our cities.?
The knocks against the large-scale 3D printing of dwellings are many. Chief among them are no extant building codes to govern construction; easily uses ten times the electricity in the fab process; and building materials are not yet
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perfected in terms of ideal weight, strength and durability.
In the grand scheme of things, however, such knocks are minor impediments when stacked against the enormous service that 3D printing can bring to bear on the lives of millions living in squalor.
The 3D artisans: Shanghai, Amsterdam, Los Angeles
In Shanghai, Amsterdam and Los Angeles 3D-printed home dwellings are serious business with serious plans and have serious prospects for success.
Shanghai: WinSun Decoration Design Engineering, Co.
In Shanghai, Ma Yihe, CEO of the WinSun Decoration Design Engineering, recently used his large-scale 3D printers to produce 10 houses (2100 square feet each) entirely out of recycled materials, in just under 24 hours.
WinSun utilizes a massive 3D printer measuring 490 feet long, 33 feet wide, and 20 feet deep was used to 3D print each of the structural components from the giant concrete slabs to the inner cross bracing.
“We purchased parts for the printer overseas, and assembled the machine in a factory in Suzhou,” said WinSun’s Ma. “Such a new type of 3D-printed structure is environment-friendly and cost-effective.”
To cut down on costs, WinSun fabricated the frame from layers of concrete partly made from recycled construction waste, industrial waste, and glass fibers. Each house is approximately 2,100 square feet.
Amsterdam: DUS Architects
Is 3D-printing the future of house building? In Amsterdam, DUS Architects is putting the process to the test for the first time.
?Working on site for three weeks,? reports InHabitat, ?the architects have so far produced a 3m-high (9.8 feet) sample corner of their future house, printed as a single piece weighing 180kg (396 lbs).
?It is one of the building blocks that will be stacked up like Lego bricks over the next three years to form a 13-room complex, modeled on a traditional Dutch gabled canal house, but with hand-laid bricks replaced by a faceted plastic facade, scripted by computer software.
?At the center of the process is the KamerMaker, or Room Builder, a scaled-up version of an open-source home 3D-printer, developed with Dutch firm Ultimaker. It uses the same principle of extruding layers of molten plastic, only enlarged about 10 times, from printing desktop trinkets to chunks of buildings up to 6x6x11 feet high.?
Los Angeles: USC Viterbi School of Engineering
Behrokh Khoshnevis (professor, USC Viterbi) is developing technology to auto-build full-scale civil structures: Contour Crafting.
Khoshnevis, professor of industrial and systems engineering as well as civil and environmental engineering, is creating a machine that will construct full-scale civil structures within, get this, hours! Yes, he’s talking about 3D-printing an entire building!
Khoshnevis, also the Director of the Center for Rapid Automated Fabrication Technologies (CRAFT), is developing the technology that will make building a house within 24 hours possible, including conduits for electrical, plumbing, and air-conditioning.
Razing slums, eradicating squalor: the promise of 3D printing
“If you can build a wall, you can build a house.” ?Behrokh Khoshnevis