Local architect Bryan Cook, the driving force behind Develop Architecture, joined forces with the nonprofit organization Citizen Robotics to bring this concept to life. Their mission: is to fill the city’s empty lots with affordable and aesthetically fitting housing solutions. In the heart of Detroit’s Islandview area, during this year’s Detroit Month of Design, their vision took shape—a 1,000-square-foot, two-bedroom cottage designed to blend seamlessly with the neighborhood’s architectural vernacular. Stucco panels, a pitched wooden roof, and a welcoming front porch pay homage to the city’s residential heritage. Citizen Robotics, led by the father-daughter duo Evelyn and Tom Woodman, deployed a robot once used in an automotive factory in Chicago to construct the home’s walls. These walls are reinforced with a mass-timber frame, ensuring structural integrity. Remarkably, once these walls pass their load-bearing tests, the frame can be removed, paving the way for future design iterations—a testament to the home’s adaptability.
A Vision for the Future
Citizen Robotics harbors ambitions of disrupting the home building industry with this groundbreaking technology. Yet, unlike other 3D-printed homes featuring unconventional designs, this Detroit gem stays true to the neighborhood’s character. The focus isn’t just on revolutionizing construction but on creating homes that harmonize with their surroundings.
Building this 3D-printed home was a feat of efficiency. The structure was printed within five days at Citizen’s facility in Southwest Detroit and assembled on-site in just a day and a half—a stark contrast to traditional construction timelines. While construction costs were slightly higher, the team’s goal was to match or beat the price per square foot of stick-built homes. They aim to achieve not only upfront cost savings but also enhanced thermal efficiency to keep utility bills affordable.
Set to be priced in line with the neighborhood’s median income of $49,700, the Islandview home represents a pivotal step in addressing Detroit’s housing challenges. It marks the beginning of what Cook and Citizen Robotics hope will be a series of 3D-printed homes across the city. Their vision extends beyond affordable housing—it aims to bring stability, sustainability, and exceptional design to the housing industry.
Empowering the Future. Detroit’s 3D-printed home project also holds the promise of new tech job opportunities and education. By sharing their technology, Cook and Citizen Robotics aim to accelerate home construction and contribute to affordable housing. Their use of off-the-shelf components ensures replicability, making this innovative approach accessible. It’s a project that paves the way for automated robots to build houses, potentially creating tech jobs for Detroit’s diverse community.
This remarkable endeavor not only redefines Detroit’s skyline but also reinvigorates its spirit. As Bryan Cook aptly states, “The 3D nature of this house and the potential of its manufacturing, that’s an inherent part of Detroit.” It’s a testament to the resilience and innovation that define the Motor City.
As 3D printing continues to permeate various industrial sectors, its potential to reshape our everyday lives becomes increasingly evident. This technology has found a particularly fascinating application in interior design, offering a playground for creativity and innovation. While polymers initially dominated the 3D printing scene, recent advances in research and development have expanded the horizons to materials like sand, wood, and even marble. This newfound versatility empowers designers and architects to unleash their imagination. In this article, we delve into the synergy between additive manufacturing and creativity and its growing influence on the realms of design and architecture. Interior design is the art of crafting the ambiance within living spaces. It involves manipulating spatial volumes and surfaces to create captivating environments. From bathrooms and kitchens to living rooms and bedrooms, interior design touches every corner of our homes. Moreover, 3D printing has opened up exciting possibilities for creating customized furniture, chairs, tables, lamps, bathroom accessories, and decorative items that add a personal touch to your living space. The range of objects that can be 3D printed for interior design purposes is astonishingly diverse.
The beauty of additive manufacturing lies in its boundless design freedom. With minimal constraints, 3D printing allows you to transform your imagination into tangible creations. This isn’t limited to industrial manufacturers; even individuals with a 3D printer at home can harness this power. Besides creative liberty, 3D printing in interior design offers the capacity to produce large volumes on XXL machines or small and medium-sized runs with remarkable flexibility and speed. Take Sandhelden, a German company specializing in 3D-printed bathroom furniture, for example. They emphasize that there are no minimum order quantities, and their largest printer can produce around 150 washbasins in less than 24 hours. Furthermore, 3D printing demonstrates a strong commitment to environmental sustainability, a topic we’ll delve into later. Interior design doesn’t adhere to a one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to 3D printing technologies. The choice depends on various factors like desired finish, compatible materials, and final applications. Companies across the globe are increasingly integrating additive manufacturing into their production processes. A notable example is IKEA, the renowned Swedish brand that embraced 3D printing in collaboration with designer Bea Åkerlund, resulting in their first collection of 3D-printed objects back in 2018 using SLS printing. Another technology making waves is binder jetting, which is compatible with an array of materials, including metals, sand, wood, ceramics, and composites. Companies like Sandhelden are leveraging binder jetting for crafting bathroom collections. The world of 3D printing is incredibly diverse, offering solutions from FDM technology for home users to produce their 3D parts to various other advanced techniques used by professional designers.
Selecting the right material for your 3D-printed masterpiece necessitates considering properties like flexibility, strength, color, and usage type. Common materials for 3D printing include polymers and metals, available in various forms such as resin, filament, or powder, depending on the chosen printing technology. Polymers are versatile and suitable for crafting a wide array of decorative items. For a natural and organic look, ceramics and organic materials like wood, glass, and stone are ideal choices. Clay can impart a smooth, rigid finish to your pieces, offering a unique touch to your interior decor. Sustainability is a crucial aspect of 3D printing, and we’ll explore this further. Environmental consciousness is paramount in today’s design landscape. 3D printing not only enables the rapid creation of objects but also reduces material waste significantly. Traditional manufacturing often involves excessive resource usage, whereas 3D printing optimizes material consumption. Bold Design, an interior design company, attests to the efficiency of 3D printing by producing items in small, on-demand batches. This approach minimizes storage needs and avoids the costly tooling required in injection molding processes. By mastering design for 3D printing, companies can produce precise, high-quality objects while simultaneously personalizing them and upholding environmental responsibility. Beyond interior decor, 3D printing finds applications in a multitude of projects. From transforming food waste into tableware to constructing pavilions from recycled water bottles, the possibilities are boundless. Even in furniture manufacturing, 3D printing shines as an eco-friendly solution. Companies like R3direct use 3D printing to produce furniture from 100% recycled plastic, showcasing the potential for a cleaner and more sustainable future.
The promise of additive manufacturing lies in its capacity for customization. In the world of interior design, personalization is paramount, and 3D printing allows homeowners to infuse their unique tastes into their living spaces. With a 3D printer, you can create or modify lamps, vases, chairs, and other objects that resonate with your personal style. The future of 3D printing in interior design is bright. Industries big and small recognize the potential offered by additive manufacturing, and it’s only a matter of time before new companies and projects dedicated to interior design using 3D printing emerge.