Windsor·Video

3-D printed homes to house youth in need in Leamington 

Four homes are being constructed using a 3-D printer which can create the structure of the home with cement, then the roof, kitchen and bathroom will be built the traditional way.

4 homes will be a made by 3-D printer, 38 the traditional way

Creating 3D houses

12 months ago
Duration 1:35
The University of Windsor is working in partnership with The Bridge Youth Resource Centre and Habitat for Humanity to build homes for youth in need.

Homes are being constructed with 3-D printing to help house youth in Leamington.

The project is a collaboration between The Bridge Youth Resource Centre, Habitat for Humanity and the University of Windsor. Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) gave Habitat for Humanity Windsor Essex $500,000 to research 3-D housing and an additional $80,000 to the University of Windsor. 

Four homes in a four-plex design will be built in Leamington with the help of a 3-D printer, with 38 more built the traditional way.

"We want to make sure that our youth have an opportunity to move to housing that is safe and affordable to them. We also want to make sure that we are building into the operating dollars for The Bridge as a whole," said Krista Rempel, executive director of The Bridge Youth Resource Centre.

The organization based in Leamington provides services such as basic life skills education, mental health and addiction services to youth 14 to 24. 

Telecom 2 3D printer is creating the cement to make sections of walls for the houses. (Dale Molnar/CBC)

"This venture is self-sustaining for us, and that's why there's going to be as a total within the community, market rate, mid-level and affordable housing. So we're working toward having not just youth have that available to them, but other individuals and couples, but that'll be over time," she said.

The homes will be built at The Bridge site on Sherk Street in Leamington. 

Getting started 

Fiona Coughlin, executive director and CEO of Habitat for Humanity Windsor-Essex, said the four 3-D printed houses are expected to be completed by March 31. They are the first 3-D printed homes in Canada that are for affordable use, she said.

With the funding from CMHC, she said they will be able to build faster and more cost effectively.

The homes will be built here near The Bridge organization in Leamington. (Habitat for Humanity Windsor Essex)

"But we need to do the research first to actually get it to that point and so that's why it's important that we're also partnering with the University of Windsor," Coughlin said.

The cost of these homes will likely be on par with building a home the traditional way, she said. When they're completed, they will look at a cost-benefit analysis. These homes are being over engineered to fit the requirements on the current building code, she said.

"They're going to be like bunkers, basically because we have to do all of the things required of the current building code. But we know that out of concrete, we may not need as much of the engineering supports," said Coughlin.

How it all works

The 3-D printing will replace the framing, drywall and insulation. But floors, roofs, kitchens and bathrooms still will need to be constructed. It uses cement to craft sections for the walls.

"With Habitat, our goal is always safe, decent and affordable. So the safety of these structures, we know they're going to be incredibly sound compared to even our traditional building," she said.

A computer program is able to use the design of the home and is able to replicate it with a robotic arm, then its printed with concrete. The special machine is being rented for this project.

Bruno Paini, PhD engineering student adjusts the cement mixing machine. (Dale Molnar/CBC)

"The robot understands the drawing," said Sreekanta Das, the professor of civil engineering at the University of Windsor.

For a small house — under 183 square metres —  structural components could be finished in two to three days by two to three people with little waste, he said. As opposed to the traditional way, which Das said would be slower, need more equipment and generate waste.

Construction is set to begin next month. 

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