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To build faster, Habitat for Humanity constructs first 3D-printed home

Under construction in Tempe, Arizona, is Habitat for Humanity's first 3D printed house: a single-family home with three bedrooms and approximately 160 m2 living space. Printing is underway, and will take care of 70-80% of the structure, including all internal and external walls. The rest of the house will be finished using traditional building techniques. Printing will take an estimated two weeks, and is being realized by German construction company PERI. Using a BOD2 printer that's run by two operators, one square meter of double-skin wall can be printed in around 5 minutes.

Arizona is suffering from an acute shortage of affordable housing, and Habitat for Humanity — a global non-profit that uses donations, sponsors, and volunteers to create housing for people in need — is looking for new building methods to create more homes at lower costs in a shorter amount of time, using fewer materials. While the 3D printed home in Tempe uses concrete, which comes with high CO2 emissions, that's partially offset by producing less waste than standard building methods. For printed structures that use sustainable, local alternatives to concrete, check out this school in Madagascar and these homes in Italy.

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Homes are in extremely short supply in many parts of the world, which comes with significant social and economical costs as consumers can't meet that most basic need. While 3D printing could be one part of the solution, another might be to build more rental communities. Either way, much depends on active government policy to help bring supply in line with demand.