Last week, Habitat for Humanity dedicated its first 3D printed home to a family in the U.S.
"Looking at this home, you would never know its 3D printed unless you get right up against it," said Zachary Mannheimer, the founder of Alquist 3D.
The groundbreaking dedication comes amid a nationwide shortage of affordable housing.
"What the pandemic did for Habitat for Humanity International, and I think many in the affordable housing sector was (it) really raised the specter of the need for safe, quality, affordable housing for everyone," said Tawkiyah Jordan of Habitat for Humanity. "COVID kind of underscored the role of housing in our lives in every facet of our lives, including in our health outcomes."
Jordan believes that 3D printing could help fill the need in the housing gap. He said the organization would continue to test the 3D printing process to see if the houses might work for their affiliates across the country.
"I think access to the materials and technology is still something that country has to work on, but I'm hopeful," he said.
The house dedicated last week in Virginia was completed about four weeks faster than a typical construction schedule — it took just 28 hours to print a 1,200 square foot home.
Officials also estimate that it cost 15-20% less than a typical home. Janet V. Green, the CEO of Habitat for Humanity Peninsula & Greater Williamsburg in Virginia, says the savings could be even greater in the future.
"Right now to bring (out) the 3D printer — and it prints out a proprietary mix of concrete that's quite expensive to set up for one home," Green said. "So if we can do multiple homes with them and they're getting more machines, now that can do everything from multi-story to triplexes to duplexes."
Green added that while the 3D printer constructed the outside of the house, the group still needed contractors to do work on the inside.
"We're just trying to do more, faster and build more affordable homes, but it's not like we're trying to replace one service sector," she said.
She hopes more young people will become interested in 3D printing to expand the industry and create more opportunities.
As for new homeowner April Springfield, she can't wait to live in her new 3D-printed home.
"My great grandmother, Daisy Stringfield, she had a concrete home, and I grew up in that concrete home," Springfield said. "It's just really exciting that I could carry on that tradition, something that my great grandmother had."