Recent trends in additive manufacturing have seen 3D printers evolve from hulking industrial machinery to desktop appliances on par with your inkjet printer. With their modest footprint, these machines are great for printing the odd component or trinket, but there’s a more colossal 3D printing trend looming on the architectural horizon.
The Philippines is now home to the newest addition to the Lewis Grand Hotel, the first-ever 3D printed building that will be put to commercial use. Lewis Yakich, owner of The Lewis Grand, is a native Californian and graduate of UCSB with a background in material science engineering. He says that after extensive research and development, his 3D printed concrete design is structurally sound, and may even be stronger than conventional methods of construction that use hollow blocks. As Yakich told 3DPrint,
The Philippines is actually a great place for concrete printing because of the weather. Currently everything is made out of concrete, and it’s a third world country so it can do a lot of good in disaster zones, etc.
This week, the 1,500 square foot (10.5m x 12.5m x 3m) building was successfully printed after approximately 100 hours of print time. Andrey Rudenko, lead designer for the printer, explains,
We had to stop several times to install plumbing, wiring, and rebars. In the future this can all be done while printing, but for now we took it slow as we were developing a process and doing testing as we went along.
Even without continual printing, the project seems to be sufficiently ambitious. After all, the two bedroom villa comes complete with a 3D printed jacuzzi.
The 3D printer used to construct the building is still being improved upon, but the design is such that it’s simple to set up and break down in different locations, and it already boasts diverse design capabilities. Rudenko says,
The assembly time for the first printer was 2 months, but this can be replicated now within a couple weeks as the assembly process has been worked out. It took approximately 1 month to develop and test the right mix, using local materials. We have sand with volcanic ash here in the Philippines, which is difficult to extrude, but a reliable process was developed and we obtained great results with pretty strong walls and good bonding between layers.
While printing a luxury villa for an upscale hotel is quite the mogul move, Yakich is also planning to use this technology to initiate new ventures in low income housing in the Philippines, where the government has approved him as a qualified builder. He’s already signed a contract to construct 20 homes before the end of this year.
His goal is to print 2,000 homes within two years. While at first this might seem staggeringly ambitious, Yakich estimates that six houses can be simultaneously printed in just one week. By utilizing 3D printing to save 60% on building costs, and by constantly perfecting the construction process, Yakich is in a solid position to make good on his goal.
While the villa still has visibly separate layers, Yakich says he plans to offer future residents of his low income housing the option to smooth out the grooves in their walls, which can be done using a hopper during the printing process.
Be sure to check out the video below to see the printer in action. Would you want to stay here on vacation?