Before robots take over our lives and make all of us redundant, we'll have to go through a transition period in which machines make and assemble things in a much quicker way before finally being assembled by people.
Nowhere is this more apparent than in the building trade. Houses, hospitals, and other buildings can take years to build and while some of this can be down to builders arranging more than one job at the same time, more often than not, it's because of the waiting for items to be fabricated or the concrete to dry.
The solution to this is modern manufacturing methods and recycling of old products. Shipping containers are an ideal solution to quickly build the walls of any building and have been used in many different situations. Companies such as Container City have been demonstrating how these boxes can be re-purposed for modern living and working and even Starbucks have begun using containers to build some of the new stores as this CNN video shows.
As well as containers, one of the latest methods to arrive is prefabricated buildings which can be delivered and assembled on site. PIRAZIZ International Service Solutions are designing and building offices, homes, and kiosk in their factory and then delivering them to the site, already laid out with wiring and holes so plumbers and electricians can come in and simply put the pipes and wires in without needing to drill extra cavities. Depending on the complexity of the project, it can take about three months to build and install and then move into a prefabricated home with a majority of that time being spent on ground work. For an average family home, a standard traditional build can take six to nine months.
Wile Piraziz are building their houses from wooden board in a giant factory and then shipping everything to site, Dutch architectural firm DUS architects have decided to employ a giant 3D printing machine on site so that all the components can be manufactured on the fly. The KramerMaker is a container sized 3D printer which is now in version two and getting better with each reiteration. In fact, KramerMaker 2 can now print three times faster. At present, it's a research project but so far, this proof of concept is showing what can be done by printing using bioplastic (an industrial glue made from 80% vegetable oil) and then locking the shapes into place so no cements are used. You can watch a host of videos about the project here.
If however, the idea of living in a plastic house doesn't appeal and you'd rather your building was made from more traditional materials, Enrico Dini and his company Monolite UK have developed a 3D printer which sprays a sand and binder mixture into layers which increased to form the structure. Because these structures aren't restricted by mold sizes and can be built into any shape, these are an architect's dream as they can explore their artistic side and give us more interesting designs in just a quarter of the time. To develop this process cost Enrico a great deal and his story has been documented in this film and the first 3D printed mansion and tower have been produced in Suzhou, China as this article demonstrates.