By Susie Steckner, Special for wranglernews.com
Habitat for Humanity Central Arizona is building its first 3D-printed home in Tempe, seeking to transform affordable housing opportunities.
The custom, single-story home, at 677 W. 19th St. that was purchased by the city for reasonably-priced housing, combines 3D printing and traditional construction to create an innovative model for the future: a scalable, cost-effective homeownership solution to address the housing crisis facing low- and modest-income residents of communities nationwide.
“This is really a moonshot opportunity for Habitat for Humanity Central Arizona,” said Jason Barlow, president and CEO of Habitat Central Arizona.
“When we consider the housing issues facing Arizona, the need for … homeownership solutions becomes clear. If we can deliver decent, affordable, more energy-efficient homes at less cost, in less time and with less waste, we think that could be a real game-changer. Just think of the implications.”
The 3D-guided project involves a single-family home with three bedrooms and two baths. The livable space is 1,738 square feet. Approximately 70 percent of the home is 3D printed, including internal and external walls. The remainder is traditional build.
It is expected to be completed in early fall and could be occupied as early as October.
According to those involved in developing the project, Habitat’s mission to build its first home of its kind in the nation started with a printer from Germany and ended on a vacant lot in Tempe.
“This kind of innovation does not happen without amazing partners and we are extremely grateful to all of them,” Barlow said. “Bringing people together is central to our mission and in this case, we’re bringing together new partners in the form of engineers, architects, developers and others looking for a breakthrough in the affordable housing space.”
Habitat Central Arizona and Tempe have been partners for more than 30 years. Other current partnerships include building 15 traditional homes on four city lots.
“Tempe is known for innovation, and this groundbreaking project aligns perfectly with our goal to identify new solutions that accelerate the growth of affordable and workforce housing in our city,” said Tempe Mayor Corey Woods.
“Working with valued partners, we want to ensure that everyone who wants to live in Tempe can do so. Beyond our city borders, this project can serve as a model for other communities as we all work to meet the critical needs of families who truly are the faces of this growing housing affordability crisis.”
Germany-based PERI shipped its 3D printer to the U.S. in March. It was then transported to Arizona in April and printing began in Tempe in May.
“Our…team is incredibly proud to print this home in Tempe for Habitat for Humanity,” said Thomas Imbacher, managing director innovation and marketing of the PERI Group.
He noted that since 2016 PERI has been working intensively on the development of 3D construction printing solutions for residential construction. In 2020, PERI realized the first-ever 3D-printed house in Germany with a BOD2 printer, followed shortly after by the largest 3D-printed apartment building in Europe.
The 3D-printing project in Tempe is now continuing this success story in the USA, Imbacher added.
According to those familiar with the PERI process, it utilizes a gantry-type of configuration and is said to be the only second-generation construction printer on the market. The gantry system is configured from multiple 2.5-meter modules in length, width and height.
For those interested in the technical aspects of this novel approach, the BOD2 works in three dimensions: The print head moves right and left along the X- axis; the X-axis moves forward and backward along the Y-axis; and the entire XY group moves up and down along the Z-columns.
Thanks to this gantry principle, the printer can move to any position within the structure, pulling up both inner and outer walls layer by layer.
The 3D construction device is certified to allow workers to remain in the print area during the printing process. This means manual work, such as laying empty conduits and connections, can be easily integrated into the printing process. A control unit allows workers to operate the BOD2 either via a web interface or touchscreen.
Once the walls of a building are printed, the ceilings can be integrated. These are then built in the traditional way.
Other partners came together to make the project possible, including co-presenting sponsors Cox and Lowe’s, Habitat for Humanity International, Tempe, PERI, 3D Construction, Candelaria Design and The Ramsey Social Justice Foundation.