It has been a while since I've updated the 3d-printing scrapbook on this site, but not for want of stories about it. In fact, as we will discover this week, there is big news on this front, beginning with today's story, which several readers here noticed and shared. Now, you may be wondering why I've put this story under the category of the "transhumanist scrapbook," but we'll get to that in a moment, for it has to do with today's high octane speculation. 3-d printed structures have already been built in China, so what's the fuss here? Here's one version of this story that appeared at Zero Hedge:

This House Was 3D-Printed In Under 24 Hours At A Cost Of Just $10,000

OK... the "house" is not exactly a nice looking modern American middle class brick home with faux Tudor turrets and windows, but then again, those homes now cost as much as three-or-four modern overpriced automobiles that can be remote controlled and sent into trees if you or your family step out of line.   Ahhh... progress!

This cozy little place was only a little over $10,000, and that means, considerably less money than a new car, and unlike other structures made from "additive manufacturing," this one was not printed elsewhere and assembled on the spot, but printed right on the spot.  With a little extra money, I'm sure a basement could have been dug out and a basement printed as well for those requiring shelter during tornado season in Russia (remember,  they get them too).

But just allow your mind to wander a bit, and speculate on all the implications: suppose they perfect all this and can print your modern American middle class brick home with faux Tudor turrets and windows... at a fraction of the cost (that is to say, for the price of just one - not several - of the modern over-priced automobiles that can be remote controlled and sent into trees if you or your family step out of line). What's brought down the cost? Once again, it's labor productivity that has been drastically reduced.  Now let your imagination really go: imagine printing roads with the process. Indeed, why have humans driving the equipment that digs the roadbeds at all? This can be done with automatically controlled vehicles. Another robot printer can print the frames for the concrete pouring, and another can then pour the concrete. Few, or no, humans needed. Cost of making or even repairing and maintaining the road? Drastically reduced. Why? Labor productivity has once again declined, dramatically.

Speculate further: if it is simple houses today, why not high-rises? As the article states, apartment buildings have already been constructed in China using parts printed by 3-d printing. But now imagine doing it on the spot - as with this little house - and today's erection cranes give way to tomorrow's 3-d printing modules, and high rises could conceivably go up not in a matter of weeks, but possibly just days. And again, at a fraction of the cost. Why? Once again, because of the decline of the costs of labor productivity.

And of course, there is the application of the same technology for space purposes; already NASA and other space agencies are looking at the process not only for printing spare parts in space for simple repairs, but looking much farther ahead to the possibilities of using the process to construct permanent human habitation and working spaces off-world. And the black projects world has a wonderful new technology to play with in their underground bases and tunnels, a boon not only to the elimination of labor productivity and maintenance costs, but, as human labor production requirements fall, so do the security risks as fewer people are "in the know." As I've stated before, I strongly suspect that additive manufacturing comes out of the black world, since the process has been around for a long time(decades, if one really digs into it), and it probably much more advanced in that black projects world than is evident in the public one. (And here's a thought to ponder, why in the past few years has 3-d printing been being "driven" into the public consciousness by stories such as these?)

So why belabor all of this? Because again traditional economic models of analysis will have to be drastically revised. Typically, housing is one area that has been looked at as an indicator of the economy's health and the employment market. When houses are built, people are spending, and people are employed building them. But with the progress and advances in the additive manufacturing process and the low cost of building a house manufactured on the spot, more people who cannot now build or afford a home will be able to do so. Thus, a housing market can expand, without the hitherto typical expansion of employment. Hence, for those making such models and emphasizing the need to shift back to a production economy, a problem is posed: how does one increase production when labor productivity is falling due to technological progress? What does one do with the decrease of jobs once filled by humans?

As I've argued before, there must be a dramatic increase in human productivity.

See you on the flip side...



  1. who put the horizontal reinforcement rods into the walls? we did!
    who did they trust to just spray paint it? us humans
    who put in the support formwork for the roof? dont know, they didnt show, so we did.
    and most of all, is it Kosher certified Stuxnet or Flame Proof? I could tell you, but then I’d have to tell my Rabbe (not Robby) Robot to kill you.

  2. I do agree with basta and Lost (!) that this 3D-printing ‘structure’ is very rudimentary in its capabilities/requirements. 3DP has a long way to go before it seriously threatens the housing industry.

    The above being said, I could see a new industry springing-up: After much tweaking and optimization of process and detail (which is still needed), 3DP house ‘shells’ may become the Next New Thing. You finance the shell, the 3DP-machinery moves in, *poof* the shell appears, and the person/family signs the completion document. After that, the 3DP shell becomes the equivalent of a present-day ‘fixer upper’…

    Lower-income folk (or people who love this kind of work) will gradually fill-out the shell to make it habitable. Medium-income folk will either buy ‘kits’ for the filling-out or hire professionals to ‘kit-out’ the shell. It just takes a change in the mind-set: A massive saving in the structural costs, balanced by the responsibility of completing-it on your own dime/time.

    This is much like the present-day Experimental Aircraft market. One can, of course, build an aircraft from complete scratch. Many do, and lovingly-crafted ships appear after many years and (many) thousands of hours of touch-labor. Others just want to get to flying, and trade-off money for building-time…

    There is a 50% rule put out by the FAA that states, for any aircraft to be registered as Experimental, at least 50% of the craft must be built by the owner. Private mini-business entrepreneurs have ‘optimized’ around this rule to offer various levels of ‘kitting’ to bring your future aircraft to the bleeding-edge of the 50% line. Right now, you can ‘build’ many Experimental Aircraft that have been factory-manufactured almost to the snap-together state seen in plastic models. The rest of the 50% (as basta and Lost have noted) lies in all the ‘small details’ that are, in reality, huge.

    (I actually agree with this ‘kitting’ arrangement because the things that will really kill you, like structural failure, are engineered-through at the factory. You may have an engine quit because you-yourself configured something improperly, but that is survivable…)

    Just as in the EA example, I could see everything in the future 3DP-shell ‘trade’ from totally ‘fit-it-out-yourself’ types to ‘move-in-tomorrow’ levels of kits. Quite a cornucopia of installation trade-offs. (There will also be abandoned shells along the way – for all the various sad reasons – just like in the kit-plane universe.)

    The important thing – in the Big Picture – is whether the expansion in the housing-market itself (due to the lower cost-of-entry) is going to generate enough manufacture-and-installation-of-kits jobs to balance-out the loss of jobs resulting-from the initial touch-labor reduction (due to the 3DP-shell construction). That is probably unknowable until we get there.

    ‘Someone’ is going to make a lot of money on this re-think. I hope it is in the small-to-medium firms, rather than the corporates…

  3. And if you combine this robot 3D printing idea with the concrete Monolithic Dome method of construction, you get a fantastically cost-reduced building with up to 75 percent savings in heating and cooling (the energy savings can actually pay for the building). If you use the declassified Soviet technology basalt-based rebar, your coefficient of expansion for rebar and concrete is now the same, which means far less cracking, hence stronger buildings (and they are already fireproof, earthquake proof, tornado proof, etc.).

    The spherical nature of the dome shape not only creates the strongest building with the least amount of material, it also lends itself more easily to automation due to the symmetrical shape. The balloon-based, sprayed concrete construction technology of the Monolithic Dome folks also means one works in an enclosed, environmentally controlled area. It should lend itself to off-planet uses quite well.

    Now we need a rebar laying robot, which should not be hard to do. Take a look on YouTube at some of the computer controlled milling machine video, and you will begin to see the possibilities. There is one of a mulit-axis milling machine making a motorcycle helmet out of a single block of aluminum, and Carvin has been using similar technologies to make fantastic guitars for decades (they have some very cool videos, too). It is amazing to watch the precision work of these machines (which require skilled programmers, designers, and operators, by the way).

    Now is the time to get certified as a robot repair person, specialist, or system designer. That will be one area of job growth in the next decade or two. There will be a significant lag between installing the new robots and the deployment of robots who can repair the robots. They will always need some form of human guidance or presence, even if the wild claims of the AI crowd ever come true.

    And as Joseph has said, it is in the creative end, design in this case, that the human element will be hardest to replace. So, get busy learning 3D rendering (Blender is a good free option for beginning if you can’t afford AutoCad – lots of free and low cost training online as well), so you can cash in on these new arenas of creativity.

    Don’t fight the wave, surf it.

  4. As in the military’s sacred kill chain; the weakest link is:
    Thus, the weakest link in the market profit chain is:
    Human labor.
    It’s getting to become obvious:
    Humans are going the way of the Dodo bird.
    At least in the current story being told and practiced that:
    Earth is a dead rock to be exploited to death. For, it is, as we know, a living planet with living beings.
    Time to change the story to reflect truth.
    Time to refashion the guillotine for some regime change that puts life ahead of profit[for a dead rock?].

    1. hey robt, that sounds like preaching revolution again. odd since the only revolutionary figures we’ve ever even heard of who got enough power to revolute even somewhat effectively got their money from the very folk and families that you’re pledging to revolute against. how exactly is that going to work?

      ps, wasnt it a napoleonic general that said only three things are needed for military success: 1. money, 2. money and 3. more money. ?

  5. What is called 3D printing in this situation is really just a computer-controlled concrete laying technique which has very limited uses. The roads or skyscrapers you cite would not benefit from it, as they require very different and much more complex construction methods. Roads require a substrate for example, and thre are already some youtube videos out there showing roads being laid in Australia at a pace of 50+ yads per minute, so this is already an optimized process.

    Most importantly, 3D printing cannot instill tensile strength into the product greater than that of the actual binder; it only offers static strength. It just sits there, hard and brittle; it cannot flex like rolled steel or even seasoned wood. The small house stands up because the walls are made of small concrete globs that have cured as a single unit and there is not much relative stress placed upon them. But the same is not true of a skyscraper, which requires a rebar skeleton so that it does not shear and topple from an earthquake or even the stresses of high winds.

  6. Our elites wet dream think Zardoz meets Planet of the Apes 1968 version. Meets Brave New World meets 1984 add your dystopia fantasies. These idiot have no idea or care how a real economy works they dream they rid themselves of the slave-workers no Spartacus revolt wait till the machines stop then they will be in real trouble by the way The Machine Stops is the title of a short story from 1903.

  7. No, the shell of a very small house was printed in a day–much like quickly building a “house” out of concrete block.

    Heating system? Nope. Electrical wiring included? Not as best as I can tell.

    Okay those first two can be run after the fact–an electric space heater running from an extension cord would heat 400 square feet, expensively likely.

    But plumbing, including waste disposal is very important if people are to live in the space, and since this is Russia, of course the pipes have to be on/in interior walls. Then of course functioning windows and doors need to be installed.

    And again assuming this “house” is to be used in a cold environment, it’s best that it have a basement deeper than whatever the local frostline is. That hole, or trenches if not doing a real basement, needs to dug by some method.

    So typically, ZH has missed a huge amount of reality. Here that be that 3D printers are mostly one material at a time, people have to live in this house, and that it can’t shift radically over the coming years.

    What was built quickly via onsite printing sounds a lot like a large storage shed, sans anything like windows and doors.

  8. We all learn to play the organ on a 3d printed organ under the tutelage of Joseph.
    At least that way one person will have a job. After long years of sweat blood and tears, some students may have become creative enough to solve the unemployment riddle for themselves.

    For that tutelage fee I do expect lavish feasts a la Amadeus the movie with interesting guests like Jon Rappoport, Scot deHart, Catherine Austin Fitts, Walter Bosley and others from that standing……

    Throw in some courses too, Jon could do something like “creativity run wild” and Scot could make the wild creativity real with Frankenstein. Catherine could give a lecture on “remember real money” and Walter could give “building zeppelin classes” so we can see a bit of the world.

    Just saying……

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