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Zachary Mannheimer, Founder & Chairman, Alquist 3D

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A groundbreaking transformation in the construction of homes through 3D printing

In 2021, Alquist 3D built the first owner-occupied 3D printed home in the world, potentially kickstarting a revolution in home building. 3D printed homes are more energy efficient and take less time to build than traditional homes, and as processes are streamlined, they have the potential to be much less expensive too. Alquist 3D recently relocated to Greeley and has big plans for the future.

Q. Tell us a little about Alquist and 3D printed homes.

A. A few years ago, I found out about 3D printing and became obsessed. I’d been doing economic development work all over, and everywhere, the number one issue was housing. We got a grant from the state of Virginia to build the first 3D printed home. We’ve built four now and all have been sold and have families living in them.

We’re now working to scale operations and reduce costs, so we can bring down the price of a home. We basically function as a sub doing the walls. We print them, and the rest is built like a traditional home. We can print the walls of a standard home in 20 to 30 hours. The goal is to get folks back to the American dream and try to provide homes that more people can afford.

Related: 3D Home Printing Company Moves to Greeley

Q. What made you come to Colorado?

A. We talked to a lot of different states. When we found the folks in Greeley and the folks at Aims Community College, it felt perfect. We wanted a community where the leadership could see the future and where they wanted to be bold. The Greeley folks provided that in spades. And there was a huge opportunity with Aims. One of the biggest things that needs to happen in the 3D industry is that we need a trained workforce. Aims jumped at the opportunity. Last month, they voted to build a new workforce innovation center on their campus where Alquist will train students. The state also provided a level of incentives that we couldn’t find anywhere else. Plus, Colorado has a history of being progressive and trying new things, new technologies—they don’t brag about it enough—and we felt like it would be a good fit.

Q. What’s ahead this year for Alquist?

A. The big thing is figuring out how do we drop costs for housing. Right now, 3D printed homes are pretty on par with the cost of a traditional home. Sometimes those costs can even come in quite a bit higher. But we know we can get those costs down. The key is localized material and a trained workforce. The material we’ve been using—concrete mixes with additives to increase strength, geopolymers, and other things—are not local and it’s expensive to bring them in. Our goal is to build homes that are at least 15 percent less costly than traditional homes, but we’re at least two years out from that.

Related: Challenges Lead to Innovation

Another thing we’re excited about is that we’ve begun printing infrastructure for the city of Greeley, like park benches and retaining walls. It’s not as exciting as building a home, but it’s still important.

Q. Where do you see 3D construction printing heading in the future?

A. This is the future of home building. 3D printed wall systems reduce energy usage by 50 percent. They’re super strong, and they don’t burn, which is important in places like Colorado. I could definitely see 3D printing and offsite construction working together. I see a future where certain parts of the home are 3D printed and other parts of the home are manufactured, and then everything is assembled on site using traditional methods. Ten years from now, I think you’re going to see 3D printing robots on every job site in America. 3D printing is going to create jobs. It’s going to speed up the home-building process and make it more efficient. It’s going to lower the cost of home ownership. That’s the goal.  

Author

  • Corey Dahl

    Corey Dahl is managing editor for Colorado Builder magazine. She has written for a wide variety of news and trade publications, in print and online. Corey has a bachelor's degree in journalism from the University of Colorado and a master's in communications management from Webster University. She lives in Denver with her dog Rosie.

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