Watch UJ engineers 3D print a house in a day

Researchers from the University of Johannesburg (UJ) have developed a 3D printing technique to build government-funded houses in a day.

The UJ school of civil engineering and the built environment is working on a pilot project for the national science and innovation department to investigate the possible use of 3D printing for constructing RDP houses for impoverished households.

UJ vice-chancellor and principal Tshilidzi Marwala recently tweeted several videos showing the 3D printer in action.

Marwala said the machine could print an RDP house with six rooms in one day.

“If we invest in this technology, we can provide our people with decent housing fast and end informality,” Marwala stated.

Marwala added that alternative houses could be printed in as little as five hours, depending on the thickness of the walls.

The research team said 3D-printing houses allowed for creating components with unlimited architectural flexibility and higher precision, reduced health and safety risks, and increased production efficiency.

According to a cost analysis from a UJ quantity surveyor, the wall plates or block work in the construction could cost around 32% less than conventional building methods.

Conventional 3D printing uses material made of plastic or metal that is heated to a very high temperature to allow for moulding in custom configurations.

According to Ohio University, 3D printed buildings are typically made from a mix of concrete, fibre, sand, and geopolymers.

Some projects have also seen houses printed using fully-biodegradable materials, including mud, soil, straw, and rice husks.

The materials are mixed in a large hopper and injected into the extrusion apparatus that layers them into the correct shapes and patterns based on programming.

These different raw materials are thoroughly mixed in a large “hopper,” at which point they can be fed into the extrusion apparatus and layered into the correct shapes and patterns.

Danish startup 3DCP Group recently unveiled the first 3D printed concrete house in Europe,

In China, Shanghai WinSun Decoration Design Engineering Company printed ten houses in 24 hours. It also built a six-storey apartment building using 3D printing.

RDP programme no working

The government’s reconstruction and development (RDP) programme has been a key socio-economic policy for the ANC since taking over the government in 1994.

In 2016, official data showed it had built around 3 million RDP houses between the 1994/1995 and 2014/2015 financial years.

However, many of these housing projects faced substantial delays or were riddled with construction defects.

They also lacked proper infrastructure in the immediately-adjacent areas while also carrying an enormous cost to the fiscus.

By 2020, the government had a backlog of about 2.6 million units, even before the Covid-19 pandemic started and put a damper on construction projects.

The human settlements department said it would end its policy of providing free houses for the poor as it was becoming unsustainable and was promoting a culture of entitlement.

Instead, the department said it would have to develop “innovative ways” of ensuring people had decent shelter over their heads.

One of the proposed solutions is for the government to provide people with the land and let them build their own houses.


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Watch UJ engineers 3D print a house in a day