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Netherlands city set to construct world’s first habitable 3D printed houses

The city of Eindhoven in the Netherlands will be the first in the world to produce homes using a 3D printer, an undertaking that is expected to revolutionise the construction industry.

Of the first five new 3D printed houses being placed on the market, the smallest, which have only two bedrooms, drew applications from 20 families only a week after images were made available.

The development, known as Project Milestone, is described by local construction firm Van Wijnen as a solution to a skilled bricklayer shortage in the Netherlands. The firm is collaborating on the project with the Eindhoven University of Technology.

A Van Wijnen manager, Rudy van Gurp, said that the 3D printing method will reduce construction costs and negative environmental effects by minimizing the amount of cement used.

The 3D printed houses are being created by a printer that is essentially a large robotic arm with a nozzle that dispenses a special type of cement. It is ‘printed’ in accordance with a design, adding multiple layers to create a wall and strengthen it. The printer, which will be located off-site, will only make the interior and exterior walls of the first new homes.

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By the time the fifth home is built, it is hoped that necessary installation such as drainage pipes, will also be produced by the printer, which will be located on-site to reduce costs. It is hoped that 3D printed houses can have wireless sensors placed into their walls to allow a homeowner to manage heating, lighting, and security controls.

Mr. Van Gurp said that 3D printing will one day allow people to construct and personalise homes to suit their own preferences. He added that he expected use of 3D printers in housebuilding to become mainstream within the next five years, saying that around 5% of new homes will be created by a 3D printer.

He explained that in the Netherlands there was a shortage of bricklayers, so 3D printing offers a solution that will eventually be less expensive than the traditional methods.

The five homes, which are being constructed in Meerhoven near the Eindhoven airport, will be completed by the middle of next year and rented out by Vesteda, a real estate firm. Mr. Van Gurp said that the permits needed to be obtained and the 3D printed houses would all comply with Dutch housing regulations.

He said that 20 candidates had already applied for the first home, after only a week of having the images on the firm’s website. He explained that the foundations for the properties would be constructed using traditional methods, adding that his firm only used 3D printing when it represented value.

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