Competition in the market
Cazza is not the first company to take inspiration from Khoshnevis, who is currently working with Nasa to explore the feasibility of printing houses on Mars.
Chinese construction firm WinSun, for example, in 2014, 3D printed 10 one-story houses in a single day in Shanghai, while last year DUS architects finished printing a 13-room canal house in Amsterdam.
The innovation behind Cazza’s technology is that the Minitank — should the company succeed in making it operational — will be able to print on-site. WinSun 3D printed the various parts of each Shanghai house off-site and assembled them on location, while DUS printed on-site but the project took three years.
Cheng says seamless printing on-site is a better method of construction.
“Usually, each piece of the prefabricated components look fine, but when you combine them, the workmanship isn’t that good and the connections are not stable. So the safety of some pre-fabricated buildings is a concern.”
Location, location, location
Printing on location is not only a faster way of working, but it cuts transportation costs and produces less waste.
“The barrier to companies (printing on-site) so far has been that it’s extremely difficult to develop a machine with all of the factors needed,” says Kelsey.
“There are many videos online of companies 3D printing concrete structures with their machines, but people don’t realize that these machines are not scale-able for actual use in construction.”
The Minitank’s crane-like neck can construct buildings up to three stories high, and the team has a new machine in the works which they say could 3D-print skyscrapers.
Currently, their primary building material is a cement made from 80% recycled materials, but Kelsey says at least three other types of materials are in development.