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Breaking Ground on the World’s First 3D Printed House

3d printed house black brick in AmsterdamOn a small canal-side plot in the north of the city of Amsterdam, architects are breaking ground in what they are calling the world’s first 3D printed house.

The construction company Dus Architects are putting their machines to work, cranking out black plastic building blocks in strange zig-zag patterns in what they hope will be the first of many future construction projects.

“The building industry is one of the most polluting and inefficient industries out there,” Hedwig Heinsman of Dus told The Guardian. “With 3D-printing, there is zero waste, reduced transportation costs, and everything can be melted down and recycled. This could revolutionize how we make our cities.”

The printer behind this story is called the KamerMaker, or Room Builder, built by Dutch firm Ultimaker. It works just like all other printers, “printing” out layers of molten plastic to make giant blocks that the architects will eventually stack on top of each other to form a 13-room complex over the next three years.

So far, in the three weeks of building, the team has produced a 3 meter tall sample corner of the complex that weighs 180 kg. You can view the video of the block being built at The Guardian’s website here.

The machine is not without its flaws: There are spots of lumps and bumps, knots and wiggles, and seams where the print head paused or slipped, printing out more black plastic than expected. “We’re still perfecting the technology,” says Heinsman. “We will continue to test over the next three years, as the technology evolves.”

But the important thing about this project isn’t just that the printer is a room maker. It’s also a conversation maker. As The Guardian notes, already, over 2,000 people have visited the site, from building contractors to coach-loads of architecture students, with even President Barack Obama being shown the prototypes of the KamerMaker during his recent trip to Amsterdam.

“There could be endless possibilities, from printing functional solutions locally in slums and disaster areas, to high-end hotel rooms that are individually customized and printed in marble dust,” says Heinsman. “This is only the beginning.”

Back in the U.S., 3D printers are also getting much deserved attention in the news these days. Our blog has been cranking out stories about 3D printers for a long time, including some upcoming big news from Hewlett-Packard due out later this year. Clearly, these machines are going to be integrated into our lives more and more as time goes on, and we can only wait and see what they’re going to print out next!

Photo credit: Peter Dejong/ASSOCIATED PRESS via The Guardian

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