William, you'd have to fight with the building inspectors--and would probably lose--in just about every state to use novel materials for building. I know people who were the first in Santa Cruz County to get a straw bale house approved, even though the tech has been around a long time and is well understood. There are some good reasons for the conservative stance of planning departments, although they can also get quite entrenched in outmoded belief systems.
TJ, you have a great imagination. So far, most of these 3D printed wood materials are not being designed for structural purposes. The stuff made by the architects, which they describe as "moderately strong," appears to be aimed more at decorative features or non-load bearing walls (curtain walls, e.g.) than load-bearing structural elements. But I bet it could be strengthened considerably.
TJM, I really can't imagine that 3D printed wood is a good choice for building a house, it would be far more expensive than a lot of very good alternate materials. My choice for floors would be the insulating concrete, and for walls I would use the steel studs and sheetrock panels, with foam-in-place insulation as needed for both thermal and sound isolation. And the roof supports would be either composite wood trusses, or those steel trusses, with waferboard sheathing and some form of steel roofing.
Not only would it go thgather faster and be simpler to keep square, but the installation of wiring, plumbing, and HVAC ducting would be better. A very large benefit would be much better resistance to moisture caused rot and mold, and being fundamentally non-combustible. So not much of a fire hazard. The very real downside is that it would cost more, and in this state I would have to fight with the building inspectors to use those materials, and to avoid having to hire contractors for every stage of the project. But it could be a great place, and it could outlast many other ways of building houses.
tekochip sorry to hear that--about visibility. I forget how small others' basements can be: I'm on a hillside so I get to look at the entire understructure of my house (with one small exception). The beautiful old wood I mentioned that's visible is, in part, in a (very small) closet. I'm glad to say that even though much of the original, 60-year-old parts of the multi-decade cabin are not entirely square, most of the later stuff is, and we've done some re-engineering and tweaking to fix that, as much as is possible. But nowhere has it varied as much as 3 in in 6 ft. Gack! Our main problem has been not being level, especially between "wings" built in different decades, as we're close to a creek and on adobe clay soil. For instance, until we elevated the head of the bedframe, every time we lay down to go to sleep it felt like we were falling. And I agree--I would much rather have an old house than a new one.
Sadly, not in my house. The timbers were meant to be hidden, so no attempt was made to even plane the wood. The tenon joints are really something to behold for visitors to the basement, though.
The worst part of an old house, besides closet space, of course, is that nothing in the house is even close to square. I have one wall that varies 3" in a six foot span as it meets a corner but I would never trade for a newer home.
Debera, it depends on what costs you're comparing. Real wood is getting expensive, as you'll know if you've tried to buy real wood furniture lately. A lot of furniture is now made out of various wood products like different grades of particle board. All but one of these materials in the slideshow are maker-grade and not terribly attractive, although some of that may be due to the designs of the objects made with them. The exception is the material created by the architects, which we show first in the slideshow. I suspect that's very expensive, and understandably so.
Thanks, William. I'm not familiar with yellow pine; sounds very different from the soft pine I'm used to. Generally speaking, the toughness of the wood starts first with the species of the tree, and then with its age when cut. That's one of the problems caused by only harvesting younger trees for lumber: they're not as strong. But, at least with redwoods, all the big old ones got logged out decades ago: kind of like overfishing.
tekochip, what's really amazing to me is that those redwood studs and joists and clapboards aren't even classy expensive heartwood, that incredibly beautiful stuff that still exists around here in a few old homes. They were just the regular redwood lumber of the day. I bet yours is even nicer looking at twice the age of mine.
This article is quite and interesting. The 3D printing industry is definitely unbound by the creators using this rapid prototyping tool. It was only a matter of time that someone would have found a way to print wood using this technology. We are definitely living in the age of DIY manufacturing.
This is a fascinating concept; imagine if we thing really large! Imagine a 3-truck convoy rolling up to a building site - one a tanker full of the fast-setting liquid resin, one a bulk carrier of sawdust from a nearby lumber mill, and the third a flat-bed carrying a self-propelled fabber. In less than 30 minutes, hoses from each of the feed-stock trucks are connected to the fabber and it begins house construction.
Wall studs would actually be integral ribs to the outer skin of the house. Heck, even the inner wall could be done at the same time and insulation pumped in from above after the wall was complete.
Focus on Fundamentals consists of 45-minute on-line classes that cover a host of technologies. You learn without leaving the comfort of your desk. All classes are taught by subject-matter experts and all are archived. So if you can't attend live, attend at your convenience.