Nov.25, 2014 | By Alec

While it might not be the first thing that comes to mind when you power up your desktop 3D printer, this additive manufacturing technology can be used for some life-altering applications. For it also has, as the Brazilian-Israeli start-up TriDom is arguing, the potential to tackle 'houselessness' across the third world. It might be time to take 3D printing to the shanty towns (favela's) of São Paolo and Rio.

You might be right when pointing out that the inhabitants of shanty towns aren't exactly homeless, but there's a big difference between homelessness and houselessness (although the two areas do overlap). As the founders of TriDom, Anielle Guedes and Yaron Schwarcz, explained, 'Home and house are really different things. A home is a sense of belonging; even if you have none thing physical, you can still have a home. But a house consists of five really strict criteria to inhabit: its having access to clean water, good sanitation, it can't be overcrowded, you need tenure of living and it has to be structurally sound.'

So while the 10 million Brazilians currently living in favela's might have a place they call home, it can hardly be called a house. But this affects people across the world; some 1.5 billion urban dwellers in the world don't have access to proper housing. 'And by 2030, that's going to rise to 4 billion, 50% of the children of the world.' That is exactly what TriDom seeks to fix using 3D printing technology. The name of their social enterprise refers to 3D printed houses (Tri = 3 and Dom, the Russian word for home), and that is their product.

Within the next 15 years, they plan to eradicate houselessness by combining green technology, clever and welcoming design and 3D printing, to produce cheap, dependable and printed concrete homes. Not only can these easily built on site by turning cranes into frameless 3D printers, they will also be more affordable, functional and dependable than current slum homes, as printed concrete can cut costs by up to 75%.

How can that possibly be achieved? Well, in a nutshell, they are going to make 'a retrofit kit for cranes, which means we're going to take any crane and turn it into an automated robotic arm. At the end of it, we're going to fit it with a work tool. And this work tool will be a frameless 3D printer. And why a 3D printer? Because we're willing to build multi-level and multi-purposes buildings. So you can have businesses and workshops on the first and second floors, and on the third floor you can have housing.'

While not only providing the population with dependable homes, it also creates space for shops and enterprising in overcrowded neighbourhoods. Theoretically, their 3D printed cranes even reduce waste down to zero, as it uses all the necessary building materials.

For now, this project is still very much a work-in-progress one, as the team are currently gathering funds and making plans with various US and Europe-based companies specializing in 3D printing construction. Right now, plans with an American corporate partner could see them going into construction in four years from now.

Already, however, the internet is playing a vital role in their uphill battle with houselessness. Partners can be taken on a tour of São Paulo favela's using Google Street View, allowing everyone to come to grips with social and architectural structures. It has even prompted them to come up with a very ingenious plan: to use the internet and games to involve the future inhabitants of their 3D printed homes into the designing process.

As the team explained, 'The problem with designer buildings nowadays and the designer community is that these are made without collaboration with the community. So governments and architects are making buildings were nobody wants to live in.' To tackle that problem, they are instead reaching out to the community, and develop a gaming method to allow them to design their own homes. 'If you think that's crazy, Minecraft and UN Habitat have a project in Kenya, where children can design their village and UN Habitat actually came and built it.'

While we'll have to wait a few years before the results of this promising and noble endeavour can be seen, it's already looking like a wonderful initiative. Could a combination of 3D printing and Minecraft spell the end of corrugated iron roofing?

For more, check out their inspiring promotional clip here:


Posted in 3D Printing Applications


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alvaro wrote at 11/25/2014 7:21:16 PM:

Go Tridom! . Go Brasil !

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