3D printing reaches new heights with two-story home

STORY: On this suburban street in Houston, Texas, a new multi-story home is taking shape.

But this is not your average building.

Layers of concrete are laid down by an enormous 3D-printer, weighing more than 12 tons.

And it's creating what is believed to be the first 3D-printed, two-story home in the United States.

Constructing the 4,000-square-foot house will take a total of 330 hours of printing.

That's according to architect Leslie Lok, co-founder of design studio HANNAH.

“In the designing of this house, we not only think about the general floorplans and you know, usage, but we also design the actual print path, like how the printer will print, where it starts and where it stops.”

The project is a two-year collaboration by HANNAH, PERI 3D Construction and CIVE, a construction engineering company.

Lok says since the printer does all the heavy lifting, less workers are needed at the construction site.

“It is a much faster construction process and it also requires only four to five people, crew on site to print a whole house and so you can see that on site we have currently five people. One of the benefits is also, it takes a lot of the heavy lifting, the labor, out of the human, where the printer is doing the heavy lifting."

The three-bedroom house will feature a hybrid design of wood framing and concrete.

Concrete can withstand the hurricanes, heavy storms and other severe weather in Texas that is becoming more frequent and severe due to climate change.

Roberto Montemayor is the project manager at PERI 3D Construction:

“Basically this works very similar to the small, plastic desktop 3D printers with two major differences. The first one is the size, of course, this printer can be expanded and contracted to print whatever project size you need to achieve. And secondly, is the material. We are printing here with concrete, which is a completely different material than plastic.”

The house is expected to be completed in the second half of 2023.

Builders hope the innovative technique can one day help more quickly and cheaply build multifamily homes.

“The design logic and layout and structure system of this building can be readily scalable and applicable for multifamily housing. And we really see that this can be the direction that we can really leverage 3D printing in that respect.”