How 3D Printing Could Be the Answer to North Texas’ Affordable Housing Crisis


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On a sunny winter morning at a property off a rural dirty road in Kaufman, southeast of Dallas, a construction crew is working on building a barn — but this isn’t your typical construction site.

Instead of laboring with hammers and power drills, this compact team is assigning the bulk of the work to a robot.

“A robot that’s basically equipped with a soft serve ice cream cone machine,” is how Craig Pettit, the CEO of Printed Technologies, describes it. Printed Technologies is in the business of constructing 3D printed homes, and according to Pettit, their method of operation is quite similar to dispensing concrete like an ice cream cone machine would.

As North Texas is continuously witnessing substantial growth, entrepreneurs like Pettit are looking at this innovative, automated technology as a potential solution to the persisting housing affordability issue.

Pettit and his business partner Lance Thrailkill express that their team is continuously enhancing the concrete mix used for printing.

“The aspect we’ve really been fine-tuning is the variety of mixes, and each mix is unique,” Thrailkill articulated. “The print outcome varies and solidifies faster or slower contingent on the amount of water present.”

So far, the company has constructed at least six edifices using a 3D printer, including residences, spread across North Texas.

Thrailkill implied that the emerging technology could shortly revolutionize the housing sector. This is one of the driving forces behind his investment in the business.

“We really want to help solve the affordable housing crisis here in America and really, worldwide,” he said.

At this moment, the cost of 3D printing a house is roughly equivalent to building with traditional techniques. Many start-ups, such as Printed Technologies, are in a race to devise a more cost-effective approach to construction, says Pettit.

“In the past three years, one of my main tasks has been to simplify all the technology for easy set-up and dismantle,” Pettit stated.

Another entrepreneur in the industry is Tim Landau, who is also the owner and CEO of Hive 3D Builders. His firm may have constructed what is potentially one of the biggest single-family homes created by a 3D printer in Burton, east of Austin.

Thrailkill and Landau both found their curiosity in 3D printing ignited when they realized its potential to address the issue of housing affordability.

“This affordability gap, specifically, is described as the discrepancy between the cost of a median-priced house and what an individual with a median income can afford,” Landau explained.

The question of supply is also notable, regarding the number of houses actually available on the market. According to a recent piece of research, the city of Dallas is revealed to be in need of an additional count of 60,000 housing units just to satisfy the current demand. more details here.

Landau believes it is a problem with a solution. “Major construction companies have the capacity to speed up their operations and build more houses. This could effectively close the gap,” he said.

But when newly built houses are upwards of half a million dollars or more, Landau said the only solution is to do something different.

“Everything points to more automation, whether it’s 3D printing or other forms of automation to help narrow those gaps,” Landau said.

3D printing also reduces the number of people needed to build a house. It usually only takes a two- to four-person crew.

It’s also a quicker process — Printed Technologies can print the frame of a 1,700-square-foot home in about two weeks.

That might sound like it’s substituting essential jobs, but as per Associated Builders and Contractors, there’s a shortage of over half a million workers in the construction arena.

Landau expresses 3D printing assists in alleviating this labor scarcity.

“So it’s intended to not eradicate jobs,” he noted. “It’s purposed to fill the position of jobs that currently we lack personnel to do.”

However, this emerging industry does encounter its fair share of hurdles. As of now, the expense of printing a house aligns with the cost of building one the traditional way. Also, there isn’t a massive demand for 3D printed homes in the Dallas region, as stated by the Dallas Builders Association.

A representative from the association stated that the technology does indeed possess the capability to rectify the persistent housing and labour shortages.

According to Landau, the industry currently has two potential directions. One is transforming into a niche industry for individuals who possess the financial means for personalized 3D printed homes. Conversely, if firms are able to reduce the additional costs, it could evolve into a commonplace practice.

Lance Thraillkill of Printed Technologies views this as the likely outcome.

“In the forthcoming five to ten years, it’ll be adopted, across, you know, the entirety of the United States and potentially globally,” he stated. “The degree to which this is employed will greatly depend on the cost.”

That means someday in the not too distant future, houses and even entire neighborhoods could be built — at least partially — by robots.

Got a tip? Email Pablo Arauz Peña at parauzpena@kera.org

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“Why did the 3D printer go to therapy? Because it had too many layers of unresolved issues!”


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Meet the mastermind behind NozzleNerds.com: GCode-Guru, a 3D printing wizard whose filament collection rivals their sock drawer. Here to demystify 3D tech with a mix of expert advice, epic fails, and espresso-fueled rants. If you've ever wondered how to print your way out of a paper bag (or into a new coffee cup), you're in the right place. Dive into the world of 3D printing with us—where the only thing more abundant than our prints is our sarcasm.

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