3D Printing has emerged from a world of multi-million dollar machines, being restricted to only the top 1% of earners, and entered into a time where every average Joe can print prototypes straight from his or her desktop. While costs for this revolution are dropping by the day, opportunities are skyrocketing, launching us into a revolutionary age of the 3D Printer. But the technology isn’t stopping at one-off toys and gizmos; it’s thinking bigger.
A relatively new company, Wikihouse, is taking 3D Printing to the next level, utilizing plywood sheets and CNC mills to create unique and structurally sound buildings for pennies on the dollar. The cut sheets, laid out and designed by the Wikihouse team and its collaborators across the globe, are free to download and require only a truck and a local wood shop with a CNC mill for your home project to get underway, greatly reducing or even eliminating costs in transportation and labor. Their signature model has already passed its certifications for structural integrity and is completely legal to code for personal residential construction. All you need is a computer and the whimsical joy of a child playing with legos. Who says adults can’t have fun too?
The makers of the Wikihouse have thought long and hard about their designs, setting up the necessary components to incorporate electrical pathways, plumbing, drywall, roofing, flooring, and exterior sheathing. Once these foundation parts are laid down, finish carpenters and cabinet makers are at the ready with their own trusty CNC mills to finish the job. But CNC mills aren’t the only 3D printing devices showing up for the party.
A small company in Massachusetts uses sand-casting and selective laser sintering (SLS) 3D printing to design fully customized water faucets. While they currently offer a minimum purchase of 150 units, just down the road in New York, a small company by the name of Shapeways is offering one-off products of anything you can imagine and design in materials ranging from polished bronze and silver to stretchable plastics and clouded ceramics..
Such innovations in 3D printing technology are allowing a heightened level of customization in the home, allowing the average user to finally have a house that they can truly call a home, down to the door knobs and light switches. While some designers may be in fear of losing their jobs to the masses, they may forget the beauty of the technology; it’s available to EVERYONE, including the designer. With such opportunities in a truly limitless potential well, the future is sure to see less of the same and more of something different.