A new video attempts to expose the “lies” about construction 3D printing.
Belinda Carr is a Dallas-based YouTuber who presents often controversial ideas around construction and building technologies. In a recent video, she explored the burgeoning technology of construction 3D printing, with an emphasis on the misconceptions in the public about the technology.
Carr looks at five frequently-seen claims about construction 3D printing:
- It is very inexpensive to 3D print a home
- It can produce a home in 24 hours
- It will make jobs unnecessary
- It can solve homelessness
- It is sustainable
Fabbaloo readers would certainly scoff at these claims, as we’ve frequently reviewed the issues with the technology. In a nutshell, the technology as of this moment simply 3D prints concrete walls through an extrusion process. It doesn’t perform any other of the countless tasks required to complete a usable building. In almost every case, the “home” is built using conventional techniques — except that a portion of the concrete structure is 3D printed. To put this in perspective, the extruded concrete cannot completely cure in 24 hours!
It really shouldn’t be called “3D printed homes”, and instead be called “3D printed concrete”. But somehow we’re here.
The problem has been mass media somehow transforming “it can 3D print some walls in 24 hours” into “THEY 3D PRINTED A WHOLE HOUSE IN 24 HOURS!!!” Evidently that draws readers, so many outlets have used that angle.
But it’s totally wrong, and Carr busts the notion entirely by looking at the five claims above, step-by-step.
At one point in the video, Carr interviewed a founder of an African construction company, who explained the reality of using such equipment in third world countries. It turns out there are plenty of barriers to adoption, not the least of which is unreliable electricity, leading to the requirement for multiple on-site heavily polluting generators. You cannot simply roll out a machine and start 3D printing buildings; there are many more factors to consider.
Carr does point out the important announcement from COBOD, one of the few construction 3D printing companies, where they attempted to debunk the same misinformation about construction 3D printers.
We’ve posted multiple stories on this misinformation, discussing the hidden costs of construction 3D printing, and even interviewing a real construction worker to obtain their views on the technology.
What attracted me to this particular video is that it is from someone outside the 3D print space, and someone that has a significant following. This video obtained over 140,000 views, mostly of people not involved in 3D printing and who otherwise would have been subjected to typical mass media “printed in 24 hours” stories.
My hope is that this video and others like it gain viewership outside the 3D print community and, ultimately, force unscrupulous mass media to take a far more realistic viewpoint on this technology.
All that said, I am still looking for construction 3D printing to more fully develop. Today it’s only in its more primitive form, and has a very long way to go.
But it could go places. Significant investment has been injected into some players, and this could lead to new developments that could resolve some of the issues mentioned in Carr’s video. One company, Diamond Age, already has presented ideas for automating construction tasks beyond concrete, so we know that’s coming.