110: Living in 3D – 3D Printing Homes

Matt and Sean examine how 3d printed homes may solve some problems… someday.

Watch the Undecided with Matt Ferrell episode, “The Truth About 3D Printed Homes”: https://youtu.be/m46QekDm0oY?list=PLnTSM-ORSgi7cadIj6qpCWkg-tPzN1sgj

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Hey, everybody on today’s episode of still to be determined. We’re gonna talk about 3 d printing homes are they dirt cheap or are they dirt expensive before we get into that just a reminder of who we are. I’m Sean Ferrell I’m Matt’s older brother and of course Matt is the matt behind undecided with Matt Ferrell Matt how you doing today a little wet right now but otherwise seems to be okay.
I’m doing pretty Well how about you? How’s your weekend.
We’re going to be talking today about Matt’s most recent episode this dropped on March First twenty twenty two the truth about three d printed homes. The truth is they’re actually 2 dimensional dun dun. No, that’s not true today I think what we’re going to be doing is looking at. Comments because the comments description the comments raised a number of issues that I thought really guide the conversation that I’d like to have about this and don’t forget to the listeners. You can jump into the comments and weigh in as well on his channel. And you can also weigh in on the comments here to continue the conversation. The first comment that stuck out for me was from private mail. He’s a private mail for money. No, that’s not little private dancer joke private rights. Personally like the brick option more He’s talking about things that you’ve referred to in previous episodes on your channel. Most recently we talked about hemp bricks. You’ve talked about other modes of brick production that.
These videos largely are around moving away from what we consider traditional building techniques or building materials. So what we’re talking about in some cases is a change in technique like this one.
You’re you’re still using a concrete you’re using some kind of slurry which is going to be similar to other buildings or the alternative to building materials doesn’t necessarily change how the home is built and that would be something like a hemp brick. So when private refers to.
The molded Brick He writes molded interlocking hemp Crete or compressed Earth blocks easy to mix with traditional construction easy to assemble, good insulation and fire resistance. Some options can be manufactured on site made me wonder if you. Were to if cost was no concern which of these do you think you would lean toward would you be like private would you be looking at the brick option or would you be thinking ah 3 D printed home. That’s the wave of the future.
Right? I.
For me I’d be leaning more in the alternate material direction I’d be leaning towards the hemprete. Um like I’ve talked about this numerous times but I’m I’m actually working on building a new house for myself. That’s going to be a very energy efficient home and it’s goingnna be a manufactured built home. So it’s like that’s another thing I’m very interested in. Which is a technique difference instead of building on site. You’re building in a factory. Um, but those techniques are more I lean versus 3 d printing because I think 3 d printing is still very early stages and so there’s an aspect of it that’s kind of like got to work out some more of these kinks before.

Right? Do you think that one of the concerns about 3 d printed homes is the effect that it has on the shape of the space created we I think culturally.
Before I think it’s a real thing.
That yeah.
Are inclined to think of our living space in forms of right angles in some cases you might even have a home that has a room which isn’t perfectly squared at the corners. But even if you have that it’s easy to define walls as being things that are straight. As opposed to many of the 3 D many of the 3 D models that you talked about and not all of them That’s to be sure but many of them have incorporated in some cases rounded corners in other cases actually 360 degree round room shape.
They’re yeah flat rectangles.
Do you think that that plays a part in our ability to adapt to this kind of thing and do you think that it’s mirrored in the kinds of furnitures and living objects that we’re accustomed to.
Do you mean like do I think it’s going to be like the shape is going to dictate whether this works or not like we’re going to lean into it or not yeah.
Um, do you think it plays a part like you go furniture shopping you just three D printed your your new home. Its round living room needs a sofa and well sofas tend to be flat and straight and.
Straight? yeah.
How much of that. Do you think plays a part in I Guess the question dissolves down into the nugget of is the newness of this the strangeness of this keeping it from being easily identified as this is a good option.
Yeah, yes you I see where you’re going I would say yes, um, it’s kind of like um, it’s not a perfect technology. It’s like when the cyber truck was announced. Everybody was just like holy crap that truck is ugly. It’s like there was this whole freak out over how foreign that looked as a truck. It’s like new things tend to like.
I mean like really new Avan Guardde kind of things tend to make us kind of real back. It’s kind of like the lizard brain taking over and I think there’s a little bit that with this, especially with the way it looks because a lot of times if it’s the unfinished 3 d printed you have like these like little ridges and so it’s a very distinct look.
You can flatten that out and put like basically stucco over it make it look more flat normal if you wanted to but I don’t think that’s can necessarily hold back through do printing because you could print three d printed houses that are straight walls but you can also it opens up the options of doing rounded. Um, there’s a Youtube channel Matt redsinger. Which I’m sure a lot of people who watch my channel know that channel he’s a builder that lives in I think Austin Texas um, but he builds sustainable homes all over the place and he had a video that just came out about the company icon just built this beautiful. Built from the ground up designed from the ground up as a three d home and 1 of the limitations for 3 d homes right now is you can’t build multi-story buildings. You basically first floor only and so this house was designed as a kind of single story house that is 3 d printed walls with. Like you know wood rafters and regular roof and all that kind of stuff and it’s absolutely gorgeous I think anybody would kill to have that home. So I don’t think it’s going to necessarily hold it back. But I think people are going to kind of raise an eyebrow when they hear that it’s three d printed. Um. I think because it’s so new they’re going to be unsure how how well does this hold up over time. You know if I run into problems. How do I fix this I think that’s gonna be the thing that’s going to hold it back more of not how it looks but the questions around longevity and ah repairability and maintenance I think that’s gonna be where people are going to raise. An eyebrow does that make sense.
In your research was there anything about 3 d printing of homes where it’s not literally the entire structure being 3 3 d printed but components being three d printed and then being assembled somewhere on the building site like does that exist as a.
Yes, yes I’m blanking the name of the company but there’s a company that actually does It’s like a manufactured three D printed home where they’re basically built they’re printing the floor part of the walls and the the ceiling and then everything else is kind of like more standard materials that are using to.
As a concept.
Finish it out and then it’s like shipped to the location and assembled on site. So like there are companies that are doing kind of like a hybrid approach like like you just mentioned so it’s like I was coming across all different kinds of techniques and styles that people are experimenting with.
1 of the things that you discussed in your video was the basically earth clay being used as the building material so you move into an area where you are able to pull up.
Yes, yeah.
The soil itself the material of the the construction is right on site convert that into your basically concrete slurry and then you’re printing with that which led to this comment from Joe be Joe writes 1 thing not mentioned bugs. I lived in a mud brick house in Australia for 16 years and boer bugs were a huge huge problem had to seal every amelatorter of the bricks with a thick layer of plastic paint or the whole thing would have been a big nest for varieties of bees and wasps the mud brick has some cement in it. So it was harder than just dried clay. But.
Um, yes.
Bugs. Loved it. Interesting take something I’m wondering. Did you see anything about environmental impact from that direction. Not the environmental impact from what humans are doing to the environment. But what.
The environment use in that way actually pulling your materials from the soil. The potential incorporation of that kind of infestation into a structure that’s built. Did you see anything around that about sealing of homes about yeah, you’ve built your three D home.
Now it’s going to become the world’s largest beehive would be a problem.
We we didn’t when we were looking into this and my team was pulling all the research together most of these three d printed homes tend to be some kind of cement slurry. So they’re not going to have this problem at all because it’s basically just cement walls but like this one that I talked about from the the italian architecture firm that actually used this Clay. Um. It’s a clay house. So yeah, there’s the potential that there are going to be bugs will bore into it. The 1 thing I would raise though is my house is built out of wood and termites can be a problem so it’s like it’s not that it’s not that this is necessarily oh this is so much worse than standard stuff. It’s like my current house is slowly rotting and there are probably bugs in my walls eating my wood right now.
Um, right.
So it’s it’s it’s kind of just the nature of the beast of just living So the question is how long does it hold up that I have no idea we didn’t come across some good results because like I said printing a clay house. This is like the first of its kind so there really is no longevity studies in that specific.
Right? right? I Also you wonder about the the usage of that kind of tech would be in situations where you might want to take it into areas where.
Instance why? which is why we didn’t come across anything.
People might be living in situations where that wouldn’t be seen as a terrible issue to begin with as opposed because this isn’t the sort of thing where we’re talking about. Okay, we’re gonna three d print you an earth house in the middle of Boston this is not what we’re what we’re talking about the case scenarios that you talked about in your video were it.
No no.
Potentially remote very rural locations and I can imagine that the usage of those houses that they would have a finite amount of time to them as well wouldn’t they be potentially something that would be It’s constructed and then within a few years it might be dilapidated to the point where you just three d print another one or do you think that these are foreseen as being construction that would withstand time.
They should be able to withstand time It’s like how long I don’t know but everything that we were saying was houses like the the mud mud brick or Clay. It’s like you can build houses like that that will stand the test of time but it also depends on where you building this house. What kind of weather an environment. Is it going to be subjected to. So it’s not like a 1 size fitts. All thing.
Right? There was also this comment from callous themes who write let me say it again because that wasn’t actually a word There was also this comment from cal’s themes who wrote. So glad to finally see a balanced presentation on three d printed housing as an architect who has been fascinated by editive manufacturing for decades now. All of the misinformation around this topic is a concern I’m wondering calstins does not continue there with the misinformation around this. In your research in your video you talked about the hype the hype around this and the misstatements like I think the most fascinating one was we can three d print to you a house for $4000 wasn’t that the the figure and.
Um, well that one was a complete bad reporting came from. Yep.
And the very and the company’s response saying we don’t know where that number ever came from I I couldn’t help but wonder if somebody somewhere said yeah, it’s $4000 per cubic yard or like gave some sort of value and the journalist is like $4000 for our house. That’s amazing.
Um, and the and the Journalist wholl mis misunderstood. Yes.
Um, what were some of the other bits of misinformation that you came across in your video that you wanted to make sure that you touched on or and was there anything that you didn’t include in the video that you think is worth bringing up now.
Well, let me reframe that a little bit because this is the second time I’ve talked about 3 d printing houses my first one I didn’t get sucked into the hype machine but I did get into hype adjacent where it was like I was talking about some of these things that were kind of flirting. With some of these things and that’s part of the reason why I wanted to bring them up in this video which was to kind of go a little deeper. The biggest ones were how fast it is to do how you need so much less labor and and then the overall like just the speed the cost and the labor it was like those are the 3 things that to me were the biggest hype. And then the fourth one if I was going to bring it fourth one and would be this will cure homelessness because we can print because you can print a house in three days we can pump out these houses and solve the homeless crisis and it’s like that’s not true because the speed is a complete is complete misinformation. As I pointed out. It’s because these are the walls. This is not the floor. This is not the ceiling. This is not a multi-story building this is not putting in the electrical the plumbing all it’s like that still takes a lot of labor to do all that stuff. So yeah, you can basically build the foundation and the the walls crazy fast and at an affordable price.
But then you still have all the labor and the requirements and everything else that goes into everything else of the building. So. It’s not you’re not making a house in three days you’re making a portion of the house in three days or four days or whatever it is so that’s where the biggest misinformation comes from. And the whole idea that you’d be able to solve the homeless crisis when when you actually look at the number of people that don’t have proper housing as I brought up on the video. It’s an insurmountable number that we have to hit so those are the things that are getting way overhyped.
This comment comment from calsines also spurred on some conversation in response to their comment which somebody asked the question. Do you think will ever get a printed high-rise to which somebody responded. Germany is already doing multi-level 3 d printing and their next certification is for high-rises. So yes and I wondered did you have any experience with coming across that information or anything similar to that or is this news to you.
That’s news to me because everything I’ve found is that nobody basically nobody has authorized multi story buildings for actual use like it’s still being tested and approved at different countries around the world. Hadn’t come across that Germany had actually done it if that’s the case that’s news to me and surprising it was ah it was inevitable at some point that we’d figure out to do it. My question be like how tall of a building can you make because that’s it makes me a little nervous.
Um, right. Well, you would hope I mean if you were describe a high-rise to somebody who was alive in the early nineteenth century and mention. Yes, eventually we’ll have buildings that will easily be above twenty stories. They would have said bo like.
Um, but well.
You know you that sounds insane. Ah I think I think if you were to look at you’ve you’ve talked about the cost. You talked about the realistic time frame. What is driving. This technology is the hope. Amongst the researchers and the people who are trying to utilize it to eventually gain some benefit from It. You do not develop a technology like this if it turns out to be apples to apples where building a house doesn’t cost any less takes just as much time.
And just as much labor. This technology will not catch on if it doesn’t have any benefit so it has to be better and it seems to me going hand in hand with that would be There are people who are hoping for the potential of it taking that next step of being able to do.
Has to be better. It has to be better.
Multi-story including potentially beyond two stories beyond three stories. So I think that this is one of those moments where you and I are looking at it and saying like I can’t imagine that but 100 years from now. It’s maybe the norm that you have a giant structure that is effectively a.
It may be the norm.
Self-growing 3 d printed building.
Well one of the reasons I keep talking about 3 d printing in a bunch of different videos for houses to semiconductors and things like that I’m fascinated by additive manufacturing because the more I learn about it the more I realize this is the future of everything like week. We’re heading towards the star trek future where you basically have a machine you push a button and it makes 5 different things without having to change tooling and the machinery the machine just prints whatever you need and that we’re heading towards that really fast and the fact that there’s a company that’s making rockets. Are going to fly to space. They are printing 3 d rockets with basically 3 d printing metal which is it makes my brain hurt. It’s like we can literally print anything and we’re learning how to do that and we’re getting better and better at it. So I have no doubt in 100 years there’ are gonna be plenty of buildings skyscrapers all that kind of stuff they’ll be. Parts of it will be 3 d printed or it’ll be fully three d printed or something like that. But it’s just one of those when I go ye about the the Germany building and these things are meant to like flex and sway with the wind if they’re super tall and all this kind of stuff. It’s like well can a concrete building if they’re doing it with concrete actually. Do it right? or is it going to just like crumble and fall down when a it strong wind comes by now. Obviously the engineers are going to figure this out but it’s like because we’ve never seen it and I have and this is news to me. It’s like I I really want to dive into it now because it’s like curious how tall it’s actually going to be and how are they actually going to do it. What’s going to be 3 b.
Three D printed and what’s not going to be three D printed because I think that’s going to be kind of the key lesson there.
I think this comment is a good one to end on this one’s from save money save the planet save rights. The reason I don’t buy the three d printed home hype is because construction isn’t a huge problem for us corporate landlords buying all property and singlefamily home zoning are the problems really hurting us. Think that’s an interesting angle to take it kind of goes hand in hand with what we were saying that if it’s apples to apples if the construction isn’t saving something then it’s not going to take on. It’s not going to catch on and save points out that. There are also other issues about land use about how many people are having access to certain areas of land that are driving concerns about things like homelessness and also congestion access to goods like you can’t. 3 d print your way into having a grocery store at the corner so things like that the smart urban planning smart community planning are are key save continues with this additional comment. Also the reason 3 d printing is such a big deal in manufacturing is because it allows you to do to do designs. Are just impossible with other methods like injection molding or Extrusion. It allows you to do this while keeping the cost low because you don’t have to purchase tooling three d printed homes aren’t pushing against these issues so they’re unable to get the same benefits I think that’s a pretty good perspective on what we’ve been talking about. Has to be a development of the technology potentially at some point to say oh you really are saving on costs from labor or time or overall expense until that happens. This is just another parallel mode of building construction.
Right? And when I brought up the the myth of the speed because you can only print the walls and everything else is normal and it still takes that labor. This is like it’s not like there’s a technology that’s going to come in and solve from a to Z of building a home This is solving a to C and the rest we have to solve. It’s like.
If This saves time and labor on this specific portion of building a house. The construction industry will probably look at that as a win because it’s going to save time and money. So if that actually does pan out even though it’s only one portion of the home build I think we’re going to see more and more and more of this So I Do agree with his comment. But I think there’s a little nuance to it. It’s not that it has to solve all of the house build it just has to solve the part that is meant to be solved for like what what was it was it trying to Solve. What is its purpose.
I Agree it seems very much like the conversation is one around what is happening right now and what would have to happen for this to be the next thing and from where I’m Sitting. It looks Like. We’re still too early days to say oh clearly we’ve got an opportunity here but it’s fascinating to see the research and the experimentation that’s going on with this the people who are really trying to push this.
In new directions and take a technology which when it was first introduced. It seemed very much like oh 3 d printing. It’ll be small little doo dads three d printed little doodads will be great and now we’re actually talking about 3 d printing homes which yeah or skyscrapers which to my.
Um, or skyscrapers.
Old brain just says but so listeners let us know what you think do you agree that this is too early to tell or have you weighed in and said Nope this isn’t it. This is this just isn’t going to take off let us know in the comments.
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