Can a house be built in 24 hours? Featured

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How long does it take to build a house? Obviously it depends on the size of the house and other factors, but it usually takes months. Recently, a number of modular solutions have entered the market to reduce cost and increase building time, but these are not nearly as robust as traditional bricks and mortar.

Modular housingThe fact that we are in the throes of the so-called “4th Industrial Revolution” is becoming evident as a fast, durable, and cost-effective method for building houses is becoming more common: 3D printing. Using a 3D printer and concrete, a Russian company built an entire house in 24 hours. It cost around $10 000 to build.

3D printing has been used to build houses, cabins, offices, pavilions, and large-scale structures. Even though the technology has only existed for a handful of years, there are many completed projects and ongoing construction jobs. Where the Russian example differentiates the potential of 3D printing of houses is the fact that it was the first house to be printed entirely on site, with no assembly of different parts required.

Chinese construction company HuaShang Tengda has 3D printed a 400 square metre, two-story house in a mere month and a half. Another Chinese company, WinSun, has built a six-story apartment building and a mansion using the technology. However, WinSun used 3D printing for small sections of walls and then cobbled them together on site using other construction methods.

Now that it’s been proven that an entire structure can be constructed on site, form a material as durable as concrete, the entire industry looks set for an upheaval. Not only is 3D printing more environmentally friendly than many other methods, it is cheaper as a result of lower labour costs.

HuaShang Tengda used ordinary Class C30 concrete. Twenty tons of the concrete were used to print the 250cm-thick walls of its villa, and seismic testing showed that the structure should be capable of withstanding an earthquake as strong as 8 on the Richter scale. In theory, buildings of any size and shape can be printed.

With NASA already planning to use 3D printing for colonies on Mars, why wouldn’t we use the technology on Earth to make construction faster and cheaper?

Watch the Russian house being built in just one day:

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Crown Publications, one of South Africa’s largest business-to-business publishing houses, came into existence in 1986. Since then, the company has grown from producing a single magazine, Electricity SA (renamed Electricity+Control), to publishing six monthly magazines, three quarterlies, and a number of engineering handbooks.