How do you print a house?
The secret ingredient in the company Mighty Buildings’ process is a proprietary synthetic substance called Light Stone Material that hardens when it’s exposed to UV light. It is strong enough to support its own weight when printing horizontal lines, which simplifies the process of printing solid structures out of it. The company is planning different designs for its structures, but for now, it is offering shells with a curved wall as an attractive design element, but also in part to show off what the material is capable of.
Mighty mills the outside wall surfaces of the buildings, so it can give the structures any shape or appearance they want, from typical siding to more decorative patterns. Because the process happens in an enclosed environment, Mighty can also re-capture dust during the milling process to re-use that material in future printing.
Inside the walls, a structural pattern is lined with foam, which improves heat retention beyond what you’d get from typical wood walls with foam or fiberglass insulation. Company co-founder and chief sustainability officer Sam Ruben points out that kind of heat retention is important when trying to meet rigorous environmental standards, especially in California.
Mighty 3D prints the curved wall in its facility, but that will expand to the back wall and roof in 2021 for a total of 80 percent of the structure. The Mighty Mod structures ship as complete buildings with windows, but require installation onto the foundation and utility hook-ups on-site. The larger Mighty House products (coming in 2021) ship as panels and require on-site assembly.
For now, Mighty is only offering structures in California, but Ruben tells me that it’s planning to expand into other other areas of the country, even those with weather much more extreme than in the Golden State. In fact, Ruben says Mighty’s synthetic material is hydrophobic and less susceptible to changes in temperature, which gives it an advantage over other 3D printed structures that use more traditional concrete materials.
There are some aspects you can customize, like color and wall texture, but most elements are locked in place to keep the production process as efficient as possible. They also come with in-unit laundry.
No matter the layout, though, Mighty plans to continue its focus on reducing the work required to make a prefab home. Mighty hopes to help address the affordable housing shortfall happening in California, which could demand more than 3.5 million homes by 2025 to keep up with demand. The company claims up to a 95-percent reduction in labor required to construct its prefab homes, which would free up those contractors to build more.
Mighty still has a lot of work to do before it reaches that scale, but it could eventually mean houses of any shape you can imagine showing up on a truck, nearly ready to move into. And since it has plans to expand production facilities around the country, it may not even have that far of a drive to get there.
(This article has been taken from Popular Science and slightly modified. The complete write-up can be https://www.popsci.com/story/technology/mighty-3d-printed-houses/)