3D printing is a method of creating a three dimensional object layer-by-layer using a computer created design. It's an additive process where layers of material are built up to create a 3D part. This is the opposite of subtractive manufacturing processes, where a final design is cut from a larger block of material. As a result, 3D printing creates less material waste. You must have seen it being used to make action figures and toys on the internet but on a large scale, it can also be used to build a house.
Tvasta Manufacturing Solutions, a start-up founded by alumni of IIT Madras, has made India's first 3D-printed house. The team printed the structure using a specialty concrete that it had developed to print large-scale 3D structures in short periods. They say the mix is based on ordinary portland cement, which has a lower water-cement ratio. Though concrete is the primary material typically used in construction projects, it cannot be recycled and requires a lot of energy to mix and transport. So, the team's effort to use technology to print the house using ordinary portland cement can “overcome the pitfalls of conventional construction".
Tvasta has not only developed its own material mix, which is an extrudable concrete consisting of cement, sand, geopolymers and fibres, it has also built an indigenous concrete 3D printer. Tvasta, through the 3D house project, aims to evaluate the ease with which houses can be manufactured through concrete printing technology, and understand the cost on a large scale to address the problems of affordable housing in a country like India.
Its first structure, a single-storey house, is 600 square feet and was built in 5 days. To the generation before us that worked their entire lives to save enough to buy a plot and build a house, that must sound bewildering. Even for the upper class and upper middle class in India, building a house is a gigantic project that takes years and even decades. With the availability of fast-paced mediums like 3D printing, not only will the housing problem can be tackled in a short period but the process of construction can be carried out in a far more sustainable way with the use of such local materials that reduce the need to transport concrete long distances thus reducing the environmental impact.
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