Apis Cor, which makes robots that 3D-print buildings and that develops advanced technologies & materials for construction, is working to accelerate the adoption of 3D-printed homes and buildings. Its unique design of the compact robotic printer allows it to be transported easily using a pickup truck and a trailer. The company’s competitive edge is centered on the ease of set up, which requires only 2 people to set up and “print the home/building.” This unique design of Apis Cor’s 3D printer allows the structure of buildings to be built directly on-site without any extra assembly. Apis Cor wants to help set the stage to finally automate the construction industry to the levels that will really help make an impact in the industry.
According to the UN Habitat’s World Cities Report 2020: The Value of Sustainable Urbanization (PDF), prospective homeowners all over the world are compelled to save more than 5 times their annual income to afford the price of a standard house. The report also says 1.6 billion people, or 20% of the world’s population, live in inadequate housing, of which one billion reside in slums and informal settlements. This just goes to show that the challenge to address these issues is immense, and addressing this housing backlog with the current construction methods will not be sustainable. It will be really hard to cut down this backlog fast enough and will not be very sustainable from a resource utilization point of view. Automation and increased productivity enables 3D-printed shells of houses to be built 9 times faster than with traditional construction methods. Acceleration of the adoption of 3D-printed homes could therefore be one of the best avenues to address the housing crisis globally.
Anna Chen-iun-tai, CEO and Co-founder of Apis Cor, says, “3D printing technology allows us to reduce the amount of construction waste. Additive manufacturing is the opposite to the subtractive manufacturing process where you need to cut out extra material to build a needed shape. In the case of 3D printing, you add as much material as you need to create a shape.” This makes it a more efficient and sustainable process.
Headquartered in Melbourne, Florida, the company holds the Guinness Book World Record for the World’s Largest 3D-Printed Building on Earth. This project was printed in collaboration with the Dubai Government for use as its municipality office. Apis Cor’s solution prints the exterior and interior walls, tackling the most time-consuming and most expensive components of building projects. The 3D-printing process allows homes to be printed in a matter of days, cutting down construction time and project costs. This automated process is also solving a major challenge in the construction industry — a critical shortage of skilled labor. For example, in the US, the sector will need to add 61,000 new workers per month over the next 3 years, which adds up to 2.2 million new hires.
Established 6 years ago, Apis Cor is preparing to scale up its operations, bringing its proven technology to the US construction industry, starting in Florida. Reservations are now open for the rest of the US, and the company will start delivering on these projects from the start of 2023. Thereafter, it will expand and take its operations beyond the US. The reservation fee is $7,000.
“Construction 3D-printing technology opens the opportunity to use alternative, more eco-friendly material which contains less cement. For example, we used gypsum-based 3D print material to build the building in Dubai. Gypsum-based material still contains cement but in much less amount than it is in regular concrete. The material is as strong as concrete because we have developed an advanced formula that allows achieving the required compressive strength. Also, the building was built according to the local building codes for reinforced-concrete buildings. That means that we printed the formwork for structural columns which were reinforced and filled with regular concrete, and we also printed the partitions and self-bearing walls. This is how we achieved the structural integrity of a building.”
“Our long-term plan is to transition to cement-free materials. For example, geopolymer material which we already successfully tested in the past.” Using geopolymer technology in the production of concrete and cement gives the following environmental benefits in comparison with traditional Portland cement production:
- reducing CO2 emissions up to 90% in the production process
- a minimum 60% less impact on the environment by reducing the need to extract raw materials
- recycle and reuse of wastes and by-products of the existing industries
Apis Cor has already made significant traction in its fundraising. Apis Cor is supported by Alchemist Accelerator, an accelerator for enterprise startups, as well as At One Ventures, a venture capital and private equity firm which finds, funds, and grows teams to catalyze a world where humanity is a net positive to nature.
Apis Cor is already working on applications beyond Earth.
“3D-printing technology is a method to construct buildings robotically, thus, it has the potential to be applied for extra-terrestrial construction. Although the materials, robots, and equipment are obviously going to be different due to a completely different environment and challenges, we will apply our knowledge of 3D-printed houses received on Earth. So basically, our work of 3D-printing houses on Earth will be inevitably applied to expand the technology capabilities beyond Earth.”
In the future, there can be scenarios where robots will go first to build the initial infrastructure before people arrive.
Apis Cor has already won several awards including:
- Top awards on NASA’s 3D-Printed Habitat Challenge for autonomous accuracy print, high performance of material: durability, impact testing, water penetration testing.
- Apis Cor has received the Diamond Award for the creative approach it has taken to its luxury buildings designs, as part of the HBCA’s wider annual Parade of Homes competition in Space Coast, Florida.
- World Guinness Record for the largest 3D-printed building on Earth, 2019
All images courtesy of Apis Cor
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