Your next new home in the Treasure State could be constructed by 3D printing technology, thanks to the recent approval of the building technique by the State of Montana Department of Labor and Industry.

You may be familiar with hobby-level 3D printers.

The inexpensive model seen below is available online for $199. Spend more for a higher-end model and you have the possibility to "print" high-quality 3D items using various polymers, with few limitations to what you can design. There is a learning curve, says 3DLearningCurve.com, and the machines may frequently require user-tinkering. 3D printing can be upscaled to build houses too, only instead of resin, the printer emits a quick drying concrete formula.

Credit: Newegg.com
Credit: Newegg.com
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3D house printing is entering the mainstream.

Tim Stark, owner of Bespoke of Montana is a Billings builder who realized a lot of people are looking at ways to lower the cost of building a home. Stark said he became interested in the 3D house printing process about 6 or 7 years ago when he witnessed a demonstration from a professor at USC building a house with the technology. The professor used what's called a gantry printer.

The problem with the gantry style printer.

The large, gantry-style contraption can take days to set up on the job site. Starks company uses a different printer nicknamed "Frank" from the Apis Cor company, that can be set up and working in just 20 minutes. The machine fits on a flatbed trailer, towable by a heavy-duty pickup truck.

Credit: Apis Cor
Credit: Apis Cor
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The first general contractor to receive approval in Montana.

Bespoke of Montana received approval from the State in April 2022 to utilize 3D printing in the home building process. In the approval letter to Stark, the Department of Labor and Industry wrote,

After review of your submitted documents, specifications and testing reports, the Department believes that 3D Printing is an approved modern construction method and allowed for all types of construction including single family dwellings where CMU block construction is utilized. 3D Printing as a construction method is approved for use statewide in Montana.

A traditional stick-framed house can require a crew of 4 - 12 to build a 2,000 square foot home, Tim said, whereas his company can do the same job with 2 - 3 people. Interior drywall and exterior siding become unnecessary when building with 3D printers, and there is practically zero construction waste. Stark said the savings can approach 30% vs. traditional construction methods.

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Credit: Apis Cor
Credit: Apis Cor
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The possibilities are endless.

Stark said he's been in discussion with various groups in Montana who are interested in utilizing 3D printing in their housing and construction projects. One could envision affordable 3D housing for lower-income home buyers, veteran housing programs, or workforce housing that could be built quickly and for less cost.

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