How to Print a Building (The Coming Real Estate Revolution)

Printing A Building

Imagine you want to build a new house or office building.  In the past, you would have had to hire an architect, a contractor, a construction company…The entire process would take months – if not years – and construction delays were the name of the game.

A man named Enrico Dini is not only about to revolutionize the way we build houses and office buildings – his technology could potentially cause the largest economic revolution in human history.

Inspired by Gaudi’s architecture, he became a Civil Engineer and, later, began building machines.  Yet he soon found that his imagination was constrained by the physical limits of modern construction techniques.  Concrete and brick buildings require a certain degree of logistics and manpower, and human engineering errors are often  rampant.

Tired of these physical constraints, Enrico invented and patented a full-scale 3D printing method that uses a high-tech glue to bind sand.  Enrico’s general concept is fairly similar, however: The printer is installed at the construction site, and using a 3D blueprint designed by the architect, it systematically “prints out” a building.

Dini's Printer

And get this: the 3D printer could soon also be able to print more 3D printers.  His company, Shapeways, is already planning a full-scale sculpture in Pisa, Italy. So in other words, this is all actually happening.

Enrico is only one of many emerging visionaries working on Earth-sculpting technologies.  Markus Kayser, who studied 3D Furniture and Product Design at London Metropolitan University, is working on another exciting and revolutionary technology. His newest invention, The Sun Cutter, is a solar powered machine that converts sand into glass-like sctructures. In a world increasingly worried about energy production and shortages of raw materials, the Sun Cutter could be installed in a barren desert to build entire structures – all by itself.  This would be hugely important for developing nations or refugees left homeless from a natural disaster.

The Sun Cutter

Once these technologies are refined and begin to enter the marketplace, entire economic models will have to be rewritten.  What will we do with millions of suddenly-unemployed construction workers when machines effectively render them obsolete? This dilemma requires our immediate attention, as it stretches far beyond the worlds of construction and real estate. As more and more human jobs are replaced by technology, the unemployed masses and the world leaders governing them will most likely be ill-prepared for such changes. The economic fallout could be disastrous.

But there is hope. Companies like Organovo are already printing human organs, and even food-printing technologies are next on the horizon.  With these new technologies, the would would have enough infrastructure and natural resources to provide billions a quality of life on-par with the United States. The transition towards a post-scarcity society has begun, wether governments and multi-national corporations like it or not.

To sum it all up, the gap between human imagination and the physical world is shrinking. As the architects become the builders, together we could build a utopia from our collective dreams.  And as Enrico builds his modern day Tower of Pisa, hopefully we will all take a moment to remember that every building needs a strong foundation.

7 thoughts on “How to Print a Building (The Coming Real Estate Revolution)

  1. Buildings will never be mass produced in this way. There’s no marketplace, period. It’s faster, easier, safer, and more accurate to assemble a building from ready made pieces that come from a factory ( “oh, but you could print the pieces!” Great, then you’ll need a few hundred machines working day and night to achieve volume, which uses more energy and requires a support staff. How does that save any money? Then there’s the way you’ll need to wash out your support material after you print your building, which means it’ll need to dry before you can go in and install fixtures, carpeting, etc.

    In summary, you are kidding if you think there’s an industry here.

    1. You’re an idiot. You’re like Watson saying that 6 computers is all the world will ever need.

      WHY would you print pieces? You can feed an entire 3dCAD drawing into the system and it will print EVERYTHING you need. You don’t think there’s a need for this? Really? So if it reduces housing construction by 50%, you don’t see the positives?

      The highest cost in construction in the 1st world is LABOR. Not materials.

      This machine eliminates LABOR.

      Clear now?

      1. Your analogy is wrong. Let me restate the points you’ve neatly ignored:
        – eliminating labor costs jobs and only helps the 1%, so it’s politically a bad idea.
        – a large printer requires a team of people to install and maintain a printer while it’s working. So now you have the unreliable humans AND an unreliable machine. You’ve compounded your problems.
        – printing large flat surfaces off the ground requires support material that traditional construction does not need. How will you remove them after the building is finished? Another robot that goes inside? Great! Now you’ve compounded it again.
        – printing in pieces doesn’t require support material. Even so, it’s probably cheaper to make template pieces on an assembly line and snap them together like LEGO (See previous video link). I hope you like neighborhoods where every building looks the same. And, again, you haven’t eliminated any jobs, someone has to maintain the assembly line, move the product to the site, put it together, inspect it… you’ve saved on assembly time, but you’re not 3D printing any more.

        Oh, and then we get to the physical limits. Printed objects have a nasty habit of delaminating – coming apart at the seams between the printed layers. I wouldn’t want to be in a 3D printed building when an earthquake hits.

        The ONLY thing a giant 3D printer will do is make it easier to print buildings with wierd shapes (

        Prove to me it’s less expensive and just as safe. Please! I love to learn.

        1. Your points are valid, but only if viewed through the lens of life right now. This technology would most likely be coming on board at the same time as nanotechnology, early artificial intelligence, humanoid robotic systems, and new construction compounds that haven’t been invented yet. That’s like saying “well how can we possibly build a Boeing 747 in 1850? The wood would just tear apart from the air pressure, and the steam engine wouldn’t be able to power it that far.” In all honestly, something completely unexpected is more likely to come along than 3D printing buildings, at any rate.

    2. We do not yet know, what direction these technologies will take us towards. but i am convinced that 3D technology and additive manufacturing will change our ways so much that is beyond the comprehension of many of us.
      When the machines can print themselves, getting a few hundred or thousand machines working day or night is of least concern.
      Energy costs will also cease to be a cause of concern soon.
      Making things in a factory and transporting them over long distances will also become an idea whose time has ended, when factories themselves move to the point of use, in the form of 3D printers.

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