[ we make science jokes, periodically ]

Beyond Brick and Mortar: Inside the World's First 3D-Printed Neighborhood

Imagine a luxurious community built with cutting-edge technology and sustainability in mind. That's precisely what's emerged in Desert Hot Springs, California: a gated community called Scenic Crest Villas boasts the world's first 3D-printed neighborhood title.

This isn't your typical home printer. Mighty Buildings, the company behind the construction, uses a large-scale 3D printer to print walls on-site continuously. The printer is a complex machine, but the basic concept resembles a home 3D printer. It extrudes a material layer by layer, slowly building up the house's walls. However, instead of using spools of plastic filament, this printer uses a unique concrete mix. This mix comprises 60% recycled glass and other sustainable materials and hardens under exposure to ultraviolet (UV) light. This innovative material is lighter than traditional concrete and boasts superior insulation and soundproofing.

While Scenic Crest Villas holds the crown for the first 3D-printed community, the technology has existed for a few years. Early adopters in Europe and North America began experimenting with 3D-printed structures in the late 2010s. These initial projects were smaller in scale, often single homes or prototypes. Here are some notable examples:

Eindhoven University of Technology, Netherlands -2018
This university unveiled a canal house printed on-site using a large robotic arm. This project demonstrated the potential for 3D printing to create complex and aesthetically pleasing structures, showcasing the potential for architectural innovation in the construction industry.

Apis Cor - 2017
This San Francisco-based company constructed a 3D-printed house in Dubai using a large concrete printer. This project marked a significant step forward as it was one of the first permitted 3D-printed buildings for habitation.

TECLA - 2018
This Italian company partnered with WASP (World's Advanced Saving Project) to create a 3D-printed house in Massa Lombarda, Italy, using locally sourced clay. This project highlighted the potential for 3D printing to use sustainable and bio-based materials in construction.

These early adopters and many others played a crucial role in proving the feasibility of 3D-printed construction. They helped develop the necessary techniques and materials, and their projects paved the way for larger-scale projects like Scenic Crest Villas.

The idea of 3D-printed homes emerged from a desire to address several challenges in the construction industry. Traditional building methods can be time-consuming, labor-intensive, and wasteful. 3D printing offers the potential to overcome these limitations. Construction crews can create structures with greater precision and less material waste using a digital blueprint and a specialized printer. Additionally, 3D printing can be automated, reducing the need for manual labor and improving safety on construction sites.

The focus on sustainability goes beyond the walls. These zero-net energy homes are designed to be highly energy-efficient, minimizing their environmental impact. The 3D-printed concrete walls are a sustainable choice, as they incorporate recycled materials. Each property features a modern single-family dwelling with a detached unit, offering ample space and a private backyard oasis with a pool and hot tub.

The successful completion of Scenic Crest Villas is a significant step forward in sustainable construction. With its combination of cutting-edge technology, eco-friendly materials, and luxurious design, this project serves as a model for future communities around the globe. 3D-printed neighborhoods have the potential to revolutionize the way we build, offering faster construction times, reduced environmental impact, and the ability to create complex and innovative designs. As 3D printing technology continues to develop, we can expect to see even more stunning and sustainable communities emerge in the years to come. Imagine entire neighborhoods constructed with minimal waste, reduced energy consumption, and the ability to be built on-site in a fraction of the time traditional methods require. The possibilities are fascinating.

Want to check out photos? Click here.

Photo Credit: Concierge Auctions