Among key burning issues under review include a focus on environmentally-friendly insulation materials to be used – because recycling of components becomes critical when moving towards a sustainable future. Eindhoven University PDEng candidate, Delaram Zamani, who is researching this topic and playing a role in the 3D-printed housing project pilot, Project Milestone, in Eindhoven, noted: “It’s been quite a challenge finding a material which is sustainable, 3D-printable and has good integration with concrete.” She further adds, “The view is that in the future, one can 3D print both the concrete and insulation material together.”

Zamani got the first-hand experience of intricacies involved in 3D printing and current technical limitations as a former trainee with us. Products of 3D printing can be metal, plastic, polymer, and concrete – made by extrusion (or processing) – but each material is handled separately right now. As technology continues to evolve, she confidently forecasts: “Such technical knowledge and manufacturing systems will soon merge together.”

This is the Holy Grail of 3D house printing which everyone in the construction industry and beyond is looking forward to. “Once you can print multiple materials next to each other, like polymer next to concrete and printing metals in-between, the whole process of 3D-printing houses can be fully automated from start to end with no human intervention needed,” projected Zamani.

Such a prospect is desirable for local authorities and developers worldwide, being under pressure to meet relentless demand for affordable housing, even as they focus on urban renewal with replacement of old buildings and rehabilitating slum areas. “Also, in the case of natural disasters, for example, after earthquakes or flooding, there’s a need for fast construction. That is where 3D-printing construction can help us,” said Zamani.