Oct 9, 2015 | By Kira

When it comes to 3D printed houses, we’ve seen the headlines and heard the claims: ten houses 3D printed in Shanghai in less than a day; the world’s first 3D printed hotel with a 3D printed Jacuzzi; and most recently, the largest 3D printer in the world which has the potential to build insect-repelling walls. Despite some of the more attention-grabbing claims, each of the companies behind these innovations recognize a fundamental and dismal truth: we are headed towards a global housing crisis, and unless a cost, time, and resource-efficient method for building safe shelters is found, billions will be left without homes.

The latest construction 3D printer to take a crack at our predicament takes a new, significantly more economical approach. Though still in prototype stage, the Apis Cor circular 3D printer, created by 25-year-old Nikita Chen-iun-tai, presents exciting possibilities for mobile and on-site 3D construction, and presents a viable and economic way to sustain our housing needs of the future.

Nikita Chen-iun-tai

Rather than being tied to a traditional three-axis setup, the Apis Cor circular 3D printer has a rotating base and a crane-like arm can rotate and swivel in all directions, printing entire houses from the inside out rather than manufacturing individual walls that require manual assembly later on. The result is that 3D printed houses can be built entirely on-site, without the need for strenuous physical labor or expensive transportation of the materials, printed pieces, or the 3D printer itself (at just 5.5 x 1 x 1.5 meters, the compact 3D printer can fit into a standard transportation truck.) Furthermore, the 3D printer uses low energy consumption and no construction waste, saving up to 70% of frame construction costs in comparison with traditional methods.

“The 3D printer uses standard construction machinery for delivery, assembles on any surface without preliminary preparations and checkout works, and is ready to start in less than half an hour,” Chen-iun-tai told 3Ders.org. “My technology is different, as we print houses inside out, so while having small dimensions, our printers can print a house more than 100 square meters in space in a day.” The printer uses Apis Cor’s proprietary compound based on concrete and fiber, and each printed layer measures 1 x 1 inch.

The young businessman and engineer, who previously worked on building contracts during the 2014 Olympic games in Sochi, only began working on the project in 2014. He says that while his technology is similar to what is being used by companies such as WinSun, his design’s mobility gives it a significant advantage. “[Other 3D printed housing] technology is hard to scale, as they are not 3D printing whole houses in place, but in separate panels in factories, which are then delivered and assembled. It makes production of houses a little easier and economical, but not cheaper.” He added that other 3D printers that use a gantry system cost as much to install as a house itself. “All existing 3D house-building printers are very large, expensive, and hard to use, so they aren’t available. That’s why I saw a need to develop a mobile 3D house-building printer.”

After a year of development, Chen-iun-tai and his team created a working prototype of the 3D printer and control program this August. In order to continue making improvements in terms of the software and print quality, and to eventually roll out an industrial version, he said that the company requires funding—they have already spent $200,000 on the prototype so far. He has therefore decided, along with his wife, to move from Russia to California in search of investors. If successful, the finished project could be available for lease as early as December 2016.

It has already been predicted that 3D printed houses will be a reality in the next five to ten years, and with the innovation coming from companies including WinSun, WASP and Apis Cor, that prediction is about to come true. The potentials of the Apis Cor mobile 3D printer are great: on-site construction could alleviate the cost and demands of building in resource-poor or remote areas—often the ones most in need of emergency or affordable shelters. And while it is currently capable of printing 100 square meter homes (which may not seem like much, but to the 800 million worldwide living in slums, it’s already more than they’ve ever had), the Apis Cor could eventually be programmed to work with larger 3D printing systems when possible, or build individual rooms that could be assembled into a larger house. In fact, if 25-year-old Chen-iun tai and Apis Cor have taught us anything, it’s that the 3D printing construction industry is in its earliest stages, and when it comes to the full range of possibilities, we ain’t seen nothing yet.



Posted in 3D Printers





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Larry Wood wrote at 3/4/2017 6:43:28 PM:

I am a retired commercial and multi-famly builder. This is really an interesting process. Can I please have contact with Nikita Chen-iun-tai. I too believe this product and process would work well almost anywhere.

mustafa ateshbar wrote at 2/10/2016 4:06:21 PM:

hay please tel me the price of this 3d printer & tel me which materials necassary for 3d printing a house tanks mateshbar@gmail.com

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