Are 3D-Printed Homes Reliable?

3D printing was a big craze for quite a while, triggering the production of all sorts of items. Now, with the cost of housing being as high as it is, alternative home fabrication methods are being explored. 3D printing is being touted as a cost-beneficial option, as well as being fast and easy to assemble. It’s the computerized version of a kit home.

Materials & Shape Matter

The strength or weakness of a 3D-printed home depends on the materials used. Generally, 3D printing needs a material that can be formed. The computer drives the design, but it uses a malleable material that can flow in hot, melted form which then cures in the shape the computer creates. Concrete is the one exception that produces very durable results.

Alternatively, a computer can operate a cutter or grinder, shaping a part out of a harder material. This isn’t printing so much as shaping but it’s in the same category. The latter can work with harder materials, from wood to metal as well as softer materials like hard plastics.

The second aspect of a 3D-printed home is the architectural form. Triangles, for example, can support more load than squares. Circular shapes shed water better than flat, angular forms. Load-bearing needs to be thick versus thin.

Considering a Log Cabin Instead

From a consumer perspective, a log cabin is very similar to a 3D-printed home in that it can be obtained as kits and prefabricated parts. However, where a 3D-printed home may only provide a shell based on one material, log cabin kits come complete with everything to actually assemble a complete home. They also come in a variety of sizes, addressing needs ranging from small hunting cabins to large home assemblies as well. 

Two of the big differences, however, involve durability and practicality. While a concrete home can be very long-lasting, it’s not very practical in that the insulation can be extremely uncomfortable. Just look at how drafty old castles were in the Middle Ages. Log cabins, on the other hand, can last generations with good maintenance, and they are extremely comfortable to live in because wood works well as an insulator. 

Homes are a personal investment, and not everything works for everyone. However, log cabins do have their advantages and a long, proven track record. 3D printed homes, while novel, have a lot of loopholes and unproven technology. If you’re going to commit to a home, it makes sense to go with an approach that will reliably be there decades later.