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Use 3D printing technology to solve the temporary housing problem after the earthquake


Some time ago, a violent earthquake occurred in southern Turkey[1]. This disaster caused countless people to fall into the situation of losing their lives or homes. While feeling the brutality of the tragedy, I recalled that the earthquake that occurred in my hometown in 2008[2] also affected countless people, and I was one of them. At that time, my family and I had to leave the building and live in a place without tall buildings. I still think about the nights I spent in the cold tent. I believe this situation can actually be improved.

Fig 1:Houses destroyed in the earthquake[1]

3d printing uses and advantages and disadvantages

To improve the temporary housing situation of the victims in the disaster area, we need a house that does not require too much human resources construction, can be built quickly and can resist secondary disasters. 3D printing temporary housing might be a solution. Although small-scale 3D printing technology has become more popular, the house size is relatively large, so the study of printing houses has only begun in recent years.


In China, some scholars have put much effort into architectural 3D printing. Professor Xu Weiguo from the School of Architecture of Tsinghua University and his team have achieved a lot of 3D-printed buildings[3]. For example, the 3D-printed concrete bookstore in Shanghai, part of the “Bridge of Art” space in Shanghai, can be used for book exhibitions, academic discussions, new book-sharing sessions, and other activities. The bookstore is modeled by Maya software, using analytical means to determine the rationality, and finally built by stacking layers with special machines. Also, in Africa, the team is printing low-income housing. Their modular design can quickly build a 40-square-meter one-story house, and the unit’s structure can be moved[3].

Fig 2:The 3D printing construction site of the Tsinghua University team[2]

Professor Xu Weiguo found in practice that one of the advantages of 3D printing architecture is high efficiency. It only takes 24 hours[3] to build a 500 sq ft one-story home. On this basis, 3D-printed buildings produce very little waste, and with the help of software, we can use materials where they are needed. The operation of the machine can also reduce human error and improve efficiency.

Fig 3:3D-printed concrete bookstore[3]

The best time for earthquake rescue is 72 hours[4]. Experts from the World Health Organization (WHO) once pointed out: After 72 hours, the rescued body is either a corpse or a miracle. 3D printing construction technology can help us quickly generate temporary housing, hospitals, and other necessary facilities after the earthquake.

Advantages and disadvantages

The current application has a device called Contour Crafting[5]. This equipment is a tool for 3D printing buildings, which can automatically print pre-set structures within a specific range. In addition to the advantages mentioned above, this device has many benefits. Contour Crafting can reduce the gathering of people. On the one hand, it can save human resources for search and rescue work[5]; on the other hand, it can reduce the secondary loss caused by gathering people in disasters. Before the earthquake, the training of disaster relief personnel can be reduced, and the time cost can be reduced. Finally, the modeling and systems of 3D printing are very open, allowing for easy design and temporary access[6].

Fig 4:Contour Crafting system[4]

Different from the equipment of Professor Xu Weiguo’s team, Contour Crafting can also strengthen some metal structures. Houses built in this way can be more potent.

“Scientific American” reported that “the technology of 3D printing buildings is still in its early stages, and more work needs to be done in terms of technology and regulation to expand the scale of 3D printing buildings. Of course, this technology also faces many challenges. In the former, practitioners have not found an effective way to strengthen concrete from printing presses. In traditional buildings, this is done by laying steel bars.” [3]It is not difficult to see that the structure of 3D printed buildings is not completely strong, and it is currently tricky to As a long-term use of the building. The use of materials is also a problem. The current printing material used is concrete, which needs to be prevented from being blocked in the machine. Moreover, the environment in which the printing device is located will also affect the printing performance.


To sum up, although 3D printing architecture has yet to mature fully. However, this is still an excellent way to solve the temporary housing after the disaster. In some of the same circumstances, this approach can also address the problems of affordable housing and homelessness.


[1]: Earthquake Leaves 1.5 Million Homeless in Turkey, 9 Million in Syria Affected. (2023, February 21). UN News Global Perspective Human Stories.

[2]:Zhou, W., & Chen, Y. (2018, May 8). Wenchuan Earthquake Ten Years Series—Those Unforgettable Details Are Still Blowing in the Wind. BBC News.

[3]:Miao, S. (2021, June 23). China’s 3D Printing Architecture, and Future Development. ArchDaily.

[4]:Vuković, Diane . (2020, April 27). Why the First 72 Hours After a Disaster Are Critical. Primary Survivor.

[5]:Mathur, R. (2016). 3D Printing in Architecture. International Journal of Innovative Science, Engineering & Technology3(7), 583–591.

[6]:Žujović , M. (2022). 3D Printing Technologies in Architectural Design and Construction: A Systematic Literature Review. Buildings12(9).


[1]:Earthquake Leaves 1.5 Million Homeless in Turkey, 9 Million in Syria Affected. (2023, February 21). UN News Global Perspective Human Stories.

[2]:Miao, S. (2021, June 23). China’s 3D Printing Architecture, and Future Development. ArchDaily.

[3]:Miao, S. (2021, June 23). China’s 3D Printing Architecture, and Future Development. ArchDaily.


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