Thanks to advances in 3D printing, today’s technology can produce a whole range of things cheaper and more energy-efficient. Estonian scientists have come up with a breakthrough that we can use to build affordable 3D-printed houses, according to Digital Trends.
The main advantages of such houses are three: low energy, low costs, and the use of locally available resources. If technology is implemented, it can help solve the massive housing shortage that exists virtually everywhere in the world.
Scientists from Tartus University and the Estonian University of Life Sciences have created a promising solution in 3D printable concrete. It consists of a mixture of ground peat, oil shale powder, and quartz nanoparticles.
The entire project is also interesting from an economic point of view – it could ultimately reduce the cost of building houses to about a tenth. Researcher Jüri Liiv adds that “Peat has excellent antibacterial and thermal properties and is cheap and widely available in many areas of the world.”
So far, the peat has not been used, mainly because it has slowed its hardening in the mixture with concrete. Humic substances present in peat react with other elements, thus preventing the formation of mechanically resistant material. “We have successfully resolved this problem during our last project. Now we can create a durable peat-based composite with high-quality thermal and mechanical properties, “says Liiv.
The developed composite material is strong and has good thermal conductivity. Even though peat is used as fuel, it is also (fundamentally) non-flammable. It cures for one day after printing, although it is elastic for a longer period, which makes it possible to close all air gaps.
Researchers, however, are struggling with a lack of funds to print a full-size test house. At this point, they had to settle for segments of the walls that served as evidence of the concept. Liiv hopes he will have access to a full-size 3D printer for autumn, allowing scientists to create a real test house.
Scientists estimate that homes with an area of up to 490 square feet (45 m2) could be printed at approximately $ 5,850.