HomeCould 3D-printed homes be Ireland's housing crisis solution?

Could 3D-printed homes be Ireland’s housing crisis solution?

The future of housing could see 3D printers building our homes from the ground up while minimising production time, and potentially making houses more affordable.

Countries like the US and the Netherlands have already begun building properties with 3D printers in an effort to tackle their own national housing crises.

With the first few 3D-printed bungalows proving a success, it’s possible that this new method of building homes could be the solution to Ireland’s own housing affordability and availability issues.

US-based company SQ4D has already used 3D printing technology to build the first-ever 3D printed house, currently on sale to the public.

According to the company, the home is 1900 square feet and was built within 48 hours over an eight-day period, using less than $6,000 in materials.

As they move on to their next print, the company hopes to cut print time in half for future homes.

Meanwhile, in the Netherlands, one couple has already moved into Europe’s first 3D-printed house, which they are currently renting for approximately €800 per month.

The 94-square metre bungalow was built by Eindhoven’s Technical University, construction companies under the name Project Milestone, and city hall.

The team are hoping to build a total of five houses, with future homes having more than one floor.

Professor Theo Salet of Eindhoven’s Technical University has estimated that these houses can be constructed with 30% less materials.

‘Why? The answer is sustainability,’ he said. ‘And the first way to do that is by cutting down the amount of concrete that we use.’

The process uses concrete with the consistency of toothpaste to ensure it is strong enough to build with but also wet enough so the layers stick to one another. The printed elements are hollow and filled with insulation material.

While the Netherlands look for innovative ways to tackle their housing shortages, Mr Salet says that 3D printing could be at least a part of the solution.

He said: ‘If you ask me, “will we build one million of the houses, as you see here?”, the answer is no. But will we use this technology as part of other houses combined with wooden structures? Combined with other materials? Then my answer is yes.’

This promising development in the housing sector could be Ireland’s answer to the housing crisis following Minister Darragh O’Brien’s update that the country needs 33,000 homes per year to address supply issues.

The Housing Minister introduced his Affordable Housing Bill before Cabinet on Tuesday, promising the construction of thousands of affordable homes by the state.

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