Could 3D Printed Concrete Help Solve Housing Challenges in the Developing Countries?

Could 3D Printed Concrete Help Solve Housing Challenges in the Developing Countries?

3D printed concrete holds great potential to provide affordable housing solutions for developing countries. Recent developments in the use of the technology has resulted in the creation of a concrete substance that is cost effective when compared to traditional concrete making methods. 3D printed concrete has been heralded as an important element in meeting the population needs of the developing world, particularly those low-income individuals in burgeoning urban centers.


The need for adaptive, sustainable and affordable housing is upon us. A look at some of the experimental applications being developed in various places, such the United States, China and Singapore. These experiments give us a glimpse into the potential use of 3D printing to create not only a cost effective building material but to also aid in solving one of the globe’s most pressing needs over the next 100 years – the need for affordable housing solutions.

3D Printing and Cost Efficient Concrete Buildings

3D printing concrete is a more cost effective way to provide affordable housing solutions to meet the needs of a growing world population. These cost savings are derived through time savings (it took 20 hours to construct a house using the 3D technology created by USC professor Behrokh Khoshnevis (Contour Crafting)), lower labor, financing and material costs. These lower costs result in the ability of this technology to be tasked with building housing units that meet the growing population demand that is not cost prohibited.

3D Printing Applications in Canada and Elsewhere

Canada celebrates more than 150 years of concrete building applications, which stretch coast to coast. This transformation from wood to concrete was seen as a boon for building projects such as Zeidler’s McMaster Health Science Centre and Arcop’s Place Bonaventure. However, as building have fallen into disrepair, concrete’s reputation as a sustainable building material has come under fire. A new conversation regarding the role of concrete structures, created with 3D printing applications is now taking place in order to revive the use of the material and restore concrete’s reputation.

This conversation was initiated by Ronald Rael, of California’s Emerging Objects and Associate Professor of Architecture at U.C. Berkeley. Rael’s conversation is leading a revival movement regarding concrete’s role in creating communities, such as the project by a small Shanghai building community who constructed 3D-printed houses in under a day for a cost of just under $4,800 each. Singapore invested $100 million USD to test large scale 3D printing concrete blocks. This investment seeks to prove that the use of the technology will help provide relief to manpower concerns of an aging population and growing population.

The Contour Crafted Homes Project at the University of Southern California

Khoshnevis’ Contour Crafting 3D Printing project seeks to not only lower the costs associated with new housing construction but also reduce the number of worksite injuries and deaths that occur. The use of CC’s 3D printing concrete extruder or similar technology being developed will allow firms to eliminate the number of fatalities and deliver quality homes in less time. CC’s demonstration work also has the potential to be replicated in poor, developing nations looking for affordable housing solutions.

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