Les Roux’s project shows exactly the state of DIY house 3D printing: on one hand it is an amazing accomplishment for a single person to be able to “digitally” build a living structure out of concrete. On the other, there still are years of work ahead in figuring out exactly how this additive process can be integrated into the industrial AEC sector.
The recent success cases in the Emirates and in Asia only partially clear up the question of how feasible the additive extrusion process is. The issues are the same as for any digital, additive, automated manufacturing: sure you built it, but what about surface finish? How long will post-processing require? beyond the obvious experience value (coding, engineering, design experience), is it really more convenient to print a house or to build it by traditional methods?
While it seems quite safe to assume that we will not be downloading and 3D printing houses anytime soon, achievements such as Les Roux’s should not be dismissed as they truly are the beginnings of a new era in concrete house building. When that era will actually begin is still quite a mistery.
Les Roux’s print was made with the V2 Vesta Printer and going forward a V3 Vesta Printer will be finished mid August of 2016 which will incorporate some lessons learned from the last printer. It took about 24 hours of print time to print the entire structure where 1 person was both operating the computer and feeding concrete to the machine.
The size of the entire structure is 8 feet by 5 feet (horizontal direction) by 7 feet (vertical direction) leaving about 7 feet by 4 feet of square footage inside the structure. The mix used is a relatively inexpensive Portland-cement based mix. Though we are experimenting with more environmental cement mixes.
Print speed is approximately .3 feet / second in the horizontal plane. In the V3 Vesta Printer to debut in August, we will attain speeds close to 1 foot / second. Moving forward, Les Roux and his team have closed a contract to print a part of a completely up-to-code home in Michigan- which will be yet another big breakthrough.