Ed­i­tor’s Note

Are we Los­ing Touch?

Log Home Living - - CONTENTS -

3-D Printed Houses: Are we Los­ing Touch?

Ire­cently read sev­eral ar­ti­cles about a newly dis­cov­ered use for the tech dar­ling of the mo­ment, 3-D print­ing: houses. The idea both in­trigued me and gave me pause. Here’s the scoop.

A Texas-based com­pany has de­vel­oped a ma­chine that they claim can “print” the walls of a 600- to 800-square-foot per­mit­ted house in 24 to 48 hours for less than $4,000. Th­ese walls are made of layer af­ter layer of ex­truded con­crete, cre­at­ing an ef­fect equiv­a­lent to a gray birth­day cake.

The com­pany also says that thanks to the speed of the print­ing process, re­duced la­bor re­quire­ments and low cost, they’ve de­vel­oped a way to pro­vide hous­ing to the poor­est coun­tries and un­der­de­vel­oped ar­eas around the world. Ac­cord­ing to re­ports, they are work­ing with habi­tat char­i­ties to ac­com­plish this noble goal.

I ap­plaud the ef­fort to de­velop af­ford­able hous­ing for peo­ple in need. It’s im­por­tant. But let’s be real — it’s only a mat­ter of time be­fore com­pa­nies en­gaged in this tech­nol­ogy look to turn a size­able profit, and that means at­tempt­ing to bring 3-D printed houses into the main­stream. Herein lies the prob­lem for me. From all ac­counts, the low price they tout doesn’t seem to cover the cost of any build­ing com­po­nents but the walls, which could add up fast; nor does it ap­pear that any test­ing has been con­ducted to prove the long-term strength or re­silience of th­ese struc­tures. And, at the end of the day, the walls are still cold, un­invit­ing con­crete.

For those of us who love log homes, we can have our cake and eat it, too. Log homes have been tested by the Log and Tim­ber Homes Coun­cil (learn more about them on page 20) and have been shown to stand up to some of the tough­est con­di­tions na­ture can throw at them, as well as meet or ex­ceed en­ergy codes. Though log home con­struc­tion is con­sid­ered a build­ing sys­tem, just as this new 3-D print­ing tech­nol­ogy is, in the log home process, ma­chines don’t re­place peo­ple, they sim­ply give them a hand. Plus, cold hard con­crete will never match the or­ganic warmth of wood. (This is­sue has am­ple ev­i­dence of that.)

I don’t know about you, but I don’t re­ally want my next house to be built by a ma­chine. For me, tech­nol­ogy has its place as an assistant, but it will never re­place crafts­man­ship, nat­u­ral beauty or the hu­man touch.

DONNA PEAK Ed­i­tor-in- Chief

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