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A System for Creating Affordable, Desirable, Low-Cost Homes using Large Scale 3D Printing




2: Mechanical Engineering

Faculty Supervisor:

David Hardt

Faculty email:


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Alternative contact: David Hardt hardt@mit.edu

Project Description

Research goal: This research will demonstrate that 3D printed homes can be affordable to buy (low cost), sustainable to manufacture (recycled materials), and desirable to live in (design). The short term goal of this research is to demonstrate that digital manufacturing, specifically large scale additive manufacturing / 3D printing, can be used to produce affordable, sustainable prefabricated homes that people want to live in. The medium term goal of this research is to reduce the cost of production of prefabricated modular homes to below $5,000 in order to lower the cost barrier associated with home ownership. The ultimate goal of this research is to design a production system that can deliver homes to the 1.5 billion+ shelter insecure. Specific UROP projects include: • Novel architecture – leverage modular and expandable design principles to produce attractive and light-weight 3D homes. • Recycled materials – demonstrate the ability to use recycled (ocean) plastic to 3D print homes and characterize the performance of light-weight recycled polymer composites. • Production system design – demonstrate a production system or micro-factory network which can economically manufacture >500 million 3D homes.


It is desirable, but not required, to have some background in one or more of the following: • CAD / Structural analysis • Additive manufacturing machine control • Basic architectural design knowledge for small homes • . Basic knowledge of polymers and implications of recycling on printability and performance. provide insights on state of the art in machine control and in process 3D part inspection; verify that additive manufacturing methods are reliable and consistent enough to meet the demands of mass production. • emonstrate that a recycled polymer composite 3D printed house can withstand handling loads (production, shipping, installation etc.) and natural loads (wind, heat, earthquake etc.). • Energy efficiency – analyze thermal performance of the building envelope; ensure efficient electrification, HVAC, and appliance options.