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未来系列:打印房屋

FUTURES: Printed Houses

Will homes ever become “print-on-demand”?

房屋会成为“按需打印”的吗?

by A’liya Spinner

Mail-Order Home

邮购房屋

Daniel clicked and dragged another rectangle across his laptop screen, adding it to a neat arrangement of shapes. With a tap of the mouse and stroke of a few keys, he added a label called “guest bedroom”, followed quickly by another conjoining rectangle he called “guest bath”. Once finished typing, he selected the program’s “preview” option and leaned back to inspect his handiwork.

丹尼尔在笔记本电脑屏幕上点击并拖动另一个矩形,将其添加到整齐的形状排列中。他轻触鼠标,轻触几下键,添加了一个名为“客房”的标签,紧接着是另一个他称之为“客房浴室”的连体矩形。输入完毕后,他选择了程序的“预览”选项,并向后靠去检查自己的手工作品。

The two-dimensional pattern of polygons began to render itself into a three-dimensional object. Rectangles grew into rooms, complete with doors and windows, stacking on top of themselves to create a digital model of a two-story house. The program rotated the model slowly on Daniel’s screen, giving him ample time to inspect it from every angle. Cost and time estimates popped up inside each room, all of which were— he was relieved to see— within his budget.

多边形的二维图案开始将自身渲染为三维对象。长方形变成了房间,有门有窗,叠在上面,形成了一个两层房子的数字模型。程序在丹尼尔的屏幕上缓慢旋转模型,让他有足够的时间从各个角度进行检查。每个房间里都出现了成本和时间估算,所有这些都在他的预算之内,他看到这些都感到欣慰。

“How’s the house coming?” Daniel’s roommate suddenly asked, emerging from his room to sit at the table beside him. Estefan was a few years younger than Daniel, and not quite ready to buy a home of his own, but the novelty of the process intrigued him.

“房子怎么样了?”丹尼尔的室友突然问道,他从房间里走出来,坐在他旁边的桌子旁。埃斯特凡比丹尼尔小几岁,还没有完全准备好自己买房,但这一过程的新颖性吸引了他。

“Just finished,” Daniel answered, nodding in satisfaction. “It’s a good size for a good price. And if Stella thinks we need more space for the kids, we can always order an extra bedroom or two in a few years. They’re easy enough to tack on post-construction.” Stella— his fiancé— had relegated almost all of the initial designing of their home to him, while she looked around for the best interior installers of electricity and plumbing, as well as furniture and finishing. “In a week you’ll have the whole apartment to yourself— I’m ordering it as soon as Stella signs off.” Daniel downloaded the blueprint to his laptop and then opened his messaging app, sending it off to his fiancé for her final approval.

“刚刚完成,”丹尼尔回答,满意地点了点头。“这是一个好的尺寸,价格也不错。如果斯特拉认为我们需要更多的空间给孩子们,我们总是可以在几年内多订一到两间卧室。它们很容易在后期施工中固定。”斯特拉——他的未婚妻——几乎把他们家最初的所有设计都交给了他,而她四处寻找最好的室内电气和管道安装工,以及家具和装修工。“再过一周,你就可以独自拥有整个公寓了——只要斯特拉一签字,我就订购它。”丹尼尔将蓝图下载到他的笔记本电脑上,然后打开他的信息应用程序,将其发送给他的未婚妻,供她最终批准。

“A week?” Estefan leaned forward, peeking at the computer screen. “I thought these things were supposed to be like, instant.” He chuckled sheepishly, then. “Not that I’m eager to kick you out or anything.”

“一周?”埃斯特凡身体前倾,偷看着电脑屏幕。“我以为这些东西应该是即时的。”然后,他羞涩地咯咯笑了起来。“并不是说我很想把你踢出去。”

“Of course not,” Daniel answered sarcastically. “And you’re right— the house only takes a day to print at the factory. But Stella wants it built on-site so the electricians she picked out can work on it. Something about trusting human touch more than factory machines. She’s old fashioned like that.” He shook his head, not understanding the need for on-site installation when the fabricators could do the same work much faster, but also not really caring enough to argue about it. 

“当然不是,”丹尼尔讽刺地回答。“你说得对,这所房子在工厂里只需要一天就可以打印出来。但斯特拉想把它建在现场,这样她挑选出来的电工就可以处理它。这是关于相信人的触觉而不是工厂的机器。她这样很守旧。”他摇了摇头,不理解当制造商可以更快地完成同样的工作时,现场安装的必要性,但也不太关心这一点。 

“At least you save a lot on shipping,” Estefan offered. He’d listened to Daniel compare prices among 3D printer companies in the area enough to know just about how much everything cost in every scenario.

埃斯特凡说:“至少你在运输上省了很多钱。”。他听丹尼尔比较了该地区3D打印机公司的价格,足以了解每种情况下每件东西的成本。

“That’s true.” With a nod, Daniel closed his computer and then stood, pushing his chair. “A week isn’t too bad, it gives me plenty of time to finish packing.”

“没错。”丹尼尔点了点头,关上电脑,然后站了起来,推着椅子。“一周还不错,我有足够的时间收拾行李。”

Housing the Future

给未来提供住房

3D printing has come a long way in the thirty years since its advent, transforming from an inefficient and expensive fringe technology to a commonplace tool in medicine (printing prosthetics and hearing aids) and increasingly cheap resource for private consumption. Similar to inkjet printers, 3D printers work by depositing their own form of “ink” (made of molten polymers) in a flat pattern. It then stacks these 2D layers, fusing them together with adhesive and ultraviolet light. The result is a three-dimensional object. Colors and texture options are limited— but 3D printers are fast, reliable, and cost-effective. And while they’re predominantly used for small prototypes or machine parts, the technology has the potential for much larger applications. In fact, the first functional 3D printed house has already been built.

3D打印技术问世三十年来取得了长足的进步,从一种效率低下、价格昂贵的边缘技术转变为一种常见的医学工具(打印假肢和助听器),并为私人消费提供了越来越廉价的资源。与喷墨打印机类似,3D打印机的工作原理是将其自身形式的“墨水”(由熔融聚合物制成)沉积在平面图案中。然后将这些2D层堆叠起来,用粘合剂和紫外光将它们融合在一起。结果是一个三维对象。颜色和纹理选项有限,但3D打印机速度快、可靠且经济高效。虽然它们主要用于小型原型或机器零件,但该技术具有更大应用潜力。事实上,第一座功能性3D打印房屋已经建成。

The company known as ICON recently constructed “House Zero” in Austin, Texas. The walls of the home were printed in only eight days, while insulation, wiring, and finishing took several months longer. ICON boasts that the uniquely curved walls of House Zero are structurally sturdy, as well as cheaper and faster to manufacture than traditional construction materials. At the end of the build, House Zero was safe, aesthetically-interesting, and ready to be lived in.

这家名为ICON的公司最近在德克萨斯州奥斯汀建造了“零号房屋”。家里的墙壁只用了八天就完成了印刷,而绝缘、布线和表面处理则需要几个月的时间。ICON夸口说,零号住宅独特的弧形墙结构坚固,而且比传统建筑材料更便宜,制造速度更快。在建造结束时,零号住宅安全、美观,可以居住。

How Does This Help?

这些能帮上什么忙?

Companies like ICON believe that 3D printing will someday solve the housing crisis, and make homes affordable and available for younger generations. In just twenty to thirty hours, machines smoothly dispense enough concrete along computer-controlled patterns to create the barebones necessary for a fully functioning home. Even factoring in time for wiring, furnishing, window-installation, and other necessary, non-printable home components, this is much faster than the 6.8 month average time for traditional construction, and avoids many delays caused by supply chain disruptions and access to human labor. It also allows customers the freedom of designing and overseeing the making of their house without much additional effort or time commitment.

像ICON这样的公司相信,3D打印终有一天会解决住房危机,让年轻一代能够买得起房子。在短短的二十到三十个小时内,机器沿着计算机控制的模式顺利地分配足够的混凝土,以创建一个功能完备的家庭所需的基本结构。即使考虑到布线、家具、窗户安装和其他必要的、不可打印的家居组件的时间,这也比传统建筑平均6.8个月的时间快得多,并避免了供应链中断和人力资源使用造成的许多延误。它还允许客户自由设计和监督其房屋的建造,而无需付出更多的努力或时间。

Alquist 3D, another company that’s begun 3D printing homes in the United States, has built a small number of houses for about 15% cheaper than traditional construction, and aims to lower that number to 30% by 2023. Unlike ICON’s House Zero, meant to show off the fullest capabilities of 3D printing, Alquist’s homes are already being lived in. By partnering with Habitat for Humanity, Alquist was able to provide a house for a low-income Virginia family, and they officially moved into their residence in early 2022. This was the first of many houses that Alquist hopes to provide to families who would be otherwise unable to afford them— both by building homes at a low enough cost that they can be sold for cheaper than wood-frame homes, and by reducing the extreme demand for houses that is driving up market prices. The company also boasts that the monthly mortgage payments on their home are low enough to be manageable for lower-income households, even after property taxes. Alquist additionally provided the Virginian family a personal and smaller-sized 3D printer that could be used to replace minor objects around the house, such as doorknobs or power outlets, making upkeep easy.

另一家在美国开始3D打印房屋的公司Alquist 3D已经建造了少量房屋,价格比传统建筑便宜约15%,并计划到2023年将这一数字降至30%。与ICON的“零号房屋”不同的是,Alquist的家已经开始入住,它旨在展示3D打印的全部功能。通过与“人类家园”的合作,Alquist为弗吉尼亚州的一个低收入家庭提供了一所房子,他们于2022年初正式搬入自己的住所。这是Alquist希望为无力购买的家庭提供的众多房屋中的第一套,既可以以足够低的成本建造房屋,使其能够以比木结构房屋更便宜的价格出售,也可以减少对推高市场价格的房屋的极端需求。该公司还吹嘘称,他们的住房每月抵押贷款支付额很低,即使扣除房产税,低收入家庭也可以管理。Alquist还为维吉尼亚家庭提供了一台小型的个人3D打印机,可用于更换房屋周围的小物件,如门把手或电源插座,使维护变得简单。

3D printing also promises to be more environmentally friendly than traditional construction. Alquist’s designs are EarthCraft certified to be energy, water, and resource efficient, and the layout and construction of the house aims to maximize comfort while keeping utility costs low. The speed at which 3D printed houses are created, as well as the reduction in wood materials and necessary manpower, keeps waste at a construction site minimal. Zachary Mannheimer, the founder and CEO of Alquist, has even stated that they are working with other firms to find an environmentally-friendly alternative to concrete for home construction, without endangering the structural integrity of his designs. Low-waste and green-material construction is not only better for the local environment, but helps to set a higher standard for the housing industry as it continues to evolve to match a growing and more eco-conscious population.

3D打印也有望比传统建筑更环保。Alquist的设计是经地球工艺认证的节能、节水和节约资源的设计,房子的布局和建造旨在最大限度地提高舒适度,同时保持低的公用设施成本。3D打印房屋的创建速度,以及木材材料和必要人力的减少,使建筑工地的浪费降至最低。Alquist的创始人兼首席执行官扎卡里·曼海默甚至表示,他们正在与其他公司合作,寻找一种环境友好的替代品,以取代家用混凝土,同时又不会危及其设计的结构完整性。低废物和绿色材料建筑不仅有利于当地环境,而且有助于为住房行业制定更高的标准,因为它将继续发展,以适应不断增长和更具生态意识的人口。

Unfortunately, 3D printing cannot directly address one of the major costs of construction— the price of land, especially in urban areas. However, it can keep overall costs down by building on plots considered “unfavorable” by traditional construction companies, either due to the location or the incline of the ground.

不幸的是,3D打印无法直接解决建筑的主要成本之一——土地价格,尤其是在城市地区。然而,它可以通过在传统建筑公司认为“不利”的地块上建设来降低总体成本,无论是由于位置还是地面倾斜

For some, like the small Oregon town of John Day, 3D printed houses may be the key to keeping the local population stable or growing; in John Day, the closure of timber mills sent the price of traditional homes and construction skyrocketing and led to a slow drain of inhabitants and families. The city signed a contract with developer Josh Walker to build 3D homes in land deemed unfavorable by contractors in hopes to return momentum to the town’s population. 

对一些人来说,比如俄勒冈州的约翰·戴小镇,3D打印房屋可能是保持当地人口稳定或增长的关键;在约翰·戴,木材厂的关闭导致传统房屋和建筑的价格飙升,并导致居民和家庭的缓慢流失。该市与开发商乔希·沃克签署了一份合同,在承包商认为不利的土地上建造3D房屋,以期恢复该镇人口的增长势头。 

In some urban environments, new land may not even be an issue to begin with. Although not currently the goal of any emerging companies, 3D printing in home construction is essentially the creation of new and solid walls, and thus old, derelict buildings can be removed down to their foundations and then rebuilt quickly and cheaply. This saves both land and helps refurbish neighborhoods in need of new and stronger infrastructure. 

在某些城市环境中,新土地甚至可能不是一个问题。虽然目前还不是任何新兴公司的目标,但家庭建筑中的3D打印基本上是创建新的实心墙,因此可以将旧的废弃建筑移到地基上,然后快速、廉价地重建。这既节省了土地,又有助于翻新需要新的、更强大的基础设施的社区。 

Commercial Application

商业应用

Despite its increasing popularity in the housing market, few 3D printing companies have turned to making commercial buildings, such as office spaces or shopping centers. The first (and among the only) such 3D printed buildings— a new headquarters for the Dubai Future Academy— was unveiled in 2020, taking seventeen days to print, three months to finish and furnish, and costing only 50% of the manpower as traditional construction. While the building itself is functional, cost-effective, and waste-reducing, the scale of printer required may be the main factor discouraging further commercial construction. The printer used to make the Dubai Future Academy was 20 feet tall, 120 feet long, 40 feet wide, and had to be shipped in multiple parts from Shanghai and then assembled on site. For most companies, specially-ordering and assembling a machine of such proportions is not practical, and there may not be room on a crowded or urban construction site to operate a printer that large. Dubai’s ruler Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum announced that the Dubai office building was meant to be a symbol of the UAE’s commitment to technological progress and leadership in sustainability; while a great symbol of innovation, commercial buildings are, as of now, too large and complex in scope to be reasonably constructed with the printers that most 3D printing companies have available.

尽管3D打印技术在房地产市场越来越受欢迎,但很少有3D打印公司转向制造商业建筑,如办公空间或购物中心。2020年,迪拜未来学院的新总部——首座(也是唯一一座)3D打印建筑揭幕,打印耗时17天,完成和装修耗时3个月,仅需传统建筑一半的人力。虽然建筑本身具有功能性、成本效益和减少浪费的特点,但所需打印机的规模可能是阻碍进一步商业建设的主要因素。迪拜未来学院使用的打印机高20英尺,长120英尺,宽40英尺,必须从上海分多个部分装运,然后在现场组装。对于大多数公司来说,专门订购和组装这样比例的机器是不现实的,在拥挤或城市建筑工地上可能没有空间操作这么大的打印机。迪拜统治者穆罕默德·本·拉希德·阿勒马克图姆宣布,迪拜办公楼是阿联酋致力于技术进步和可持续发展领导力的象征;尽管商业建筑是创新的伟大象征,但截至目前,商业建筑的规模太大、太复杂,无法用大多数3D打印公司提供的打印机合理建造。

Roadblocks on the Way

前行路上的障碍

Clearly there must be barriers between our present level of technology and the normalization of 3D printing in large-scale home construction, or else we would already see this relatively quick and easy alternative taking over the industry. The most obvious reason we haven’t seen an influx of this scale, according to Alquist founder Mannheimer, is there simply aren’t enough suppliers to meet the demand for 3D printed houses. Alquist says they receive 25-30 requests for a commissioned home every hour, and that it would take upwards to fifty large-scale companies to make 3D printed houses a viable and commonplace option on the housing market. In the United States, there are currently less than ten such companies, and investors who are already involved with wood-frame housing are hesitant to back a cheaper alternative.

显然,在我们目前的技术水平和大规模家庭建设中3D打印的正常化之间,肯定存在着障碍,否则我们已经看到这一相对快速和简单的替代方案接管了该行业。Alquist创始人曼海默表示,我们没有看到如此规模的用户涌入的最明显原因是,根本没有足够的供应商来满足3D打印房屋的需求。Alquist表示,他们每小时都会收到25-30份委托建造房屋的请求,而要使3D打印房屋成为住房市场上可行且常见的选择,需要多达50家大型公司。在美国,目前只有不到十家这样的公司,已经涉足木结构住房的投资者对支持更便宜的替代方案犹豫不决。

Furthermore, the housing industry itself makes 3D printed homes less practical to finish, despite the relative ease of initial construction. This is because modern methods of installing wiring, plumbing, HVAC, and other interior systems are completely based around traditional wooden frames— there is no well-trained workforce or blueprint for finishing 3D printed houses, which drives up the cost and timeliness of completion. A proposed solution to this lack of trained builders is to move construction off of the site altogether, and prefabricate the majority of the home in a factory, where embedding wires and other interior systems is much easier. Automation is also cheaper than hired workers and mobile printers, and prefabricated houses, like most 3D printed homes, are more energy efficient. Of course, factory production faces the same issues of supply and demand as on-site building, with very few facilities outfitted to print entire houses for shipping. Before 3D printed houses can become available for mass consumption, therefore, either significantly more infrastructure and companies must be created for printing homes, or the workforce specializing in the livable finishing of homes must learn a new skill set. Or, more likely, both will have to happen in order to streamline the process to commercially-available levels.

此外,尽管最初的建造相对容易,但住房行业本身使得3D打印房屋的完成不太实际。这是因为安装电线、管道、暖通空调和其他室内系统的现代方法完全基于传统的木框架——没有训练有素的劳动力或蓝图来完成3D打印房屋,从而提高了完工的成本和及时性。针对缺乏训练有素的建筑工人的问题,一个拟议的解决方案是将建筑全部移出现场,并在工厂中预制大部分房屋,在工厂中嵌入电线和其他内部系统要容易得多。自动化也比雇佣工人和移动打印机便宜,装配式房屋和大多数3D打印房屋一样,更节能。当然,工厂生产面临着与现场建筑相同的供需问题,几乎没有配备打印整栋房屋以供运输的设施。因此,在3D打印房屋可用于大规模消费之前,要么必须为打印房屋创建更多的基础设施和公司,要么专门从事宜居房屋装修的员工必须学习新的技能。或者,更可能的是,这两种情况都必须发生,以便将流程简化到商用水平。

Outside Application

外部应用

Many companies invested in 3D printing homes cite the housing crisis as a motivation for their innovation, seeking cheaper, faster, and more environmentally friendly methods to house the newer generation. Houses support families, autonomy, and owning a home is, in the long-term, cheaper than renting an apartment. And while there’s relatively little doubt that, in the United States, 3D printed homes will someday make a substantial impact on the housing market, housing shortages, resource depletion, and environmental degradation from poor neighborhood design and construction are global issues that extend far beyond the epicenter of 3D printer development.

许多投资3D打印房屋的公司将住房危机作为他们创新的动力,寻求更便宜、更快、更环保的方法来为新一代提供住房。住房支持家庭、自治,从长远来看,拥有住房比租房便宜。虽然相对而言,毫无疑问,在美国,3D打印房屋有朝一日会对住房市场产生重大影响,但住房短缺、资源枯竭以及糟糕的社区设计和建设导致的环境恶化是全球性问题,远远超出了3D打印发展的中心。

For example, much of the appeal of 3D printed houses is that they can be built on-site with reduced pollution and waste; even homes built in factories and shipped to the final location require less time and ecological disruption to get finished in place. But it’s much more difficult to ship prefabricated walls overseas, or across hundreds to thousands of miles. 3D printers of the size necessary to pour concrete layers are also not easy to transport, nor are they cheap to manufacture, so companies will not be inclined to expand their operations until well established in the United States. With the help of nonprofits like Habitat for Humanity, perhaps 3D printers can be provided to people in need around the world, but the technology, as well as the resources needed to make it continuously function (concrete, or a more eco-friendly substitute), are not accessible to some of the nations and communities who need it most.

例如,3D打印房屋的主要吸引力在于可以在现场建造,减少污染和浪费;即使是在工厂建造并运到最终地点的房屋,也需要更少的时间和生态破坏才能完工。但要将预制墙运到海外,或跨越数百至数千英里,难度要大得多。浇筑混凝土层所需尺寸的3D打印机也不容易运输,制造成本也不便宜,因此在美国建立良好的基础之前,公司不会倾向于扩大其业务。在非营利组织如人类家园的帮助下,或许可以向世界各地有需要的人提供3D打印机,但一些最需要3D打印机的国家和社区无法获得该技术以及使其持续运行所需的资源(混凝土或更环保的替代品)。

3D printing has the potential to revolutionize the housing industry in the domestic sphere, opening up new opportunities to a generation struggling to find affordable domiciles. With eco-conscious innovation and quick, cheap construction, 3D printed homes are already in more demand than current companies can supply, and those attractive qualities will only make them more popular in the future. However, difficulty of transport, as well as the front-loaded cost of buying and maintaining 3D fabricators, will probably keep 3D printing from being widely available in the place where it’s needed most; it may be several decades from its invention before the 3D printed house is able to make a positive global impact, but its effect in the domestic sphere will likely become increasingly obvious as younger, eco-conscious and money savvy generations begin to look for places to settle.

3D打印有可能彻底改变国内住房行业,为努力寻找经济适用住房的一代人提供新的机会。随着环保意识的创新和快速、廉价的建筑,3D打印房屋的需求量已经超过了现有公司的供应量,而这些诱人的品质只会让它们在未来更受欢迎。然而,运输困难,以及购买和维护3D制造商的前期成本,可能会使3D打印无法在最需要的地方广泛使用;3D打印房屋的发明可能需要几十年的时间才能在全球产生积极影响,但随着年轻一代、注重生态和金钱的一代开始寻找定居地,其在家庭领域的影响可能会越来越明显。

翻译:StarPoison@STARSET_Mirror翻译组
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