3D printing + mass manufacturing house construction is 50% faster, produces 99% less waste and can be 80% automated

The world needs two billion new homes over the next 80 years, the World Economic Forum said in 2018. The United States needs an additional 3.8 million new homes just to meet existing consumer demand, Realtor.com estimates in 2020. And but with perhaps 600,000 Homeless people in the US and 40 million people living in poverty in the richest country on the planet, it’s not just about quantity.

It’s also a matter of price.

And, honor for the planet. Construction is already the source of 40% of the world’s carbon footprint. How do we house people effectively, efficiently, economically and in a planet-friendly way?

According to innovative housing startup Mighty Buildings CTO Dmitry Starodubtsev, the answer is to reinvent construction with a mix of prefabrication, 3D printing, automation, plus a heavy dose of ZNE, or Zero Net Energy: homes that generate all the energy they need to consume.

“We’re trying to automate the manufacturing process, increase quality, and increase factory efficiency to basically unlock productivity in the areas of high housing demand,” Starodubtsev told me on a recent TechFirst podcast. “The whole system works to eliminate as many hours of labor at the facility as possible in order to lower prices and make it more affordable for different generations of people, not just millennials.”

Essentially: 3D printing custom parts, mass producing standard building blocks, designing holistically and automating as much as possible. All 3D printing can really be slower for large parts, and all pre-printing limits creativity and customization.

If it works, say goodbye to six-month construction schedules for a single home. Think life-sized Lego for home building.

“We produce extremely complete … kits of components that already apply … exterior finishes, interior finishes, as well as connectors to assemble the entire system faster,” he says. “We set it up on site as Lego blocks… and then we can easily assemble these pieces in hours, instead of months of typical construction time.”

The promise is 2x faster build time, while producing 99% less waste. However, the cost reductions are not that impressive.

Currently, Starodubtsev says Mighty Buildings homes, which he describes as “semi-high-end,” are about 20 percent less expensive than comparable traditionally built homes. Prefab Review estimates the cost of a single-family home at $435,900 to $512,400 for a 1,440-square-foot home in California, which isn’t exactly going to solve the affordability crisis.

But as the company scales — Mighty Buildings recently shifted from consumer sales to large-scale B2B sales — Starodubtsev says costs will come down significantly.

“Greater technology adoption is only possible when we work with developers as B2B customers,” he says. “Scaling the processes is one of the company’s goals … in order to reach a certain point where the technology will get that necessary adoption to become truly affordable for the entire market.”

The B2C market where anyone can go to the company’s website, order a house, design it, pay for it and have it shipped to their lot is still coming, he says. But for now the company is focusing on community-scale projects.

These community-scale projects include ZNE homes: prefabricated houses with solar panels that can share energy throughout the community as needed. The company is currently working with a developer to create just that kind of community right now in Southern California: a 20-home hilltop development with 1,200-square-foot homes. Might Buildings is also working on projects in the Middle East and a cold weather area of ​​South Korea.

Ironically, the emergence from COVID has actually slowed the company down somewhat as digitized processes revert to physical ones:

“When COVID came, we changed the way we do on-site inspections with the authorities and leveraging new digital tools, just providing videos, etc., and it was enough,” says Starodubtsev. “But once the COVID like stopped, they went back to their previous model.”

The company will have some competition. According to Crunchbase, there are currently 984 construction startups that have raised a total of $10.5 billion to reinvent the way we build homes and other structures.

Take one copy; subscribe to TechFirst.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *