3D Printed Houses and Their Relevance in India
India is a highly populated country addressing the grave issue of adequate and quality housing for the masses. The Government of India has made provision for providing affordable houses under the “Housing for All” initiative making housing the prime agenda. Consequently, the country is exploring various fast-paced construction technologies to meet its housing needs. One such construction technology that appears to be a promising solution is 3D printing technology.
What are 3D Printed Houses?
Referred to as a quicker and economical technique, 3D Printed houses can be one of the remedies to address the concern of mass housing India is facing. The country is still in the nascent stages of full proof and dedicated 3D Printing construction. Though initial concepts date back to 2013, some projects have already been done on smaller scales. Housing will be an everlasting demand, especially low-cost.
Understanding 3D Printing
Known as Additive Manufacturing, 3D Printing is a technique of making or constructing objects: first digitally on software and then transferring them to 3D Printers through digitally controlled codes and making it a physical existence by pouring quick dry materials layer upon layer.
The method actually dates back to the 1980s. Charles Hull developed a technique in which he hovered a laser, in a concentrated beam, over a liquid polymer which converted instantly into solid giving the desired profile. He invented it and coined the term stereo-lithography.
Used to make smaller objects, it is only in the last few years that the construction industry has been able to unearth the potential to make substantial structures through the same method.
Materials in Question
Source: Vocal Media
To date, the material that is being used for making houses is majorly cement, as its constituents make it a better choice. The walls support themselves, and the indoor temperatures make living comfortable.
It is convenient to lay the materials on the pre-programmed 3D track. A lot of architects are experimenting with other materials though. Rammed earth, bio-plastic, natural fibers, clay, etc. are a few tried and tested materials.
Time is money and especially in India where delay in projects escalates the construction cost significantly, the use of 3D Printing will be a revolution. This modus operandi is quick. With only mechanical work involved the chances of finishing the work on time are almost guaranteed.
Money can also be saved on the use of zero or little scaffolding. The laborers hired are less in number which saves on finances. Another interesting or rather favorable merit for architects and engineers is the increased focus on the intricacy of design. With parametric architecture as a newer field of design, it will surely become more convenient than before to fabricate complex ones.
3D Printing does have a few demerits to its name. Firstly, the cost of printers is quite high with initial investments being expensive. Secondly, in a country like India where unemployment is a serious issue, installing one 3D printer will replace hundreds of workers. This will augment the responsibilities of the government failing which there might be an increase in crimes.
The material options are very limited and sometimes limited geographically too. Maintenance of printers is an additional expense. The lack of skilled labor to construct buildings using 3D printers is a major complication.
What does the Future Behold
In India, where the aim is to build over two crore houses, scalability will be the stern test. Though prototypical templates can be multiplied over the country, the funds and the eagerness of the ministry to act in time are crucial parameters. 3D Printed housing will always be at crossroads with traditional methods but both have their merits and demerits.
Source: The Economic Times
The example of a 3D Printed house by L&T Construction at the Kanchipuram facility where reinforced bars are also used along with in-house concrete is a very diligent example and one to be proud of. It is surely a start in the right direction and will pave the way for projects to usher new heights in a growing economy.
3D printing technique can also be adopted as a DIY project with individuals building their own homes with skills taught through government initiatives. The scope for growth is limitless. The potential and arrival of 3D Printing can surely alleviate the low-cost housing woes while simultaneously opening up arenas for furthermore massive developments.