U.S. Patent application tiled August 13, 1908. Serial No. 448,293.
To all whom it may concern.’
Be it known that I, THOMAS ALVA EDISON a citizen of the United States, residing in Llewellyn Park, Orange, county of Essex, in the State of New Jersey, have invented certain new and useful Improvements in Processes of Constructing Concrete Buildings, of which the following is a description…
The object of my invention is to construct a building of a cement mixture by a single molding operation, all its parts, including the sides, roofs, partitions, bath tubs, floors, etc., being formed of an integral mass of a cement mixture.
Edison’s idea of building a cement home for $1,200 ultimately failed, because each house required a mold containing some 2,300 pieces, and to get started a builder would have to buy at least $175,000 in equipment – a fortune at that time.
His Portland Cement Company went bankrupt in 1922, despite supplying the concrete for the construction of Yankee Stadium. A few of Edison’s cement structures still survive in Montclair, NJ and Gary, IN.
A century has passed since the Edison patent, and his dream has finally become viable, thanks to 3D printing – computers that operate machines that place concrete precisely, avoiding forms, and capable of building a house in just 24 hours.
In July, Nordine and Nouria Ramdani, along with their three children, may be the first in the world to have moved into a 3D-printed house.
This four-bedroom property in Nantes, France is a prototype for bigger projects aiming to make construction quick and cheap.
Francky Trichet, the Nantes council’s director of innovation, explained:
The purpose of the project was to see whether this type of construction could become mainstream for housing, and whether its principles could be applied to other communal buildings, such as sports halls.
For 2,000 years there hasn’t been a change in the paradigm of the construction process. We wanted to sweep this whole construction process away.
Now, he says, their work will “force” private companies to “take the pen” and continue the narrative.
Look for more 3D-printed homes in Europe, Asia and Africa – but not America.
Wall Street’s investment in home builders, commercial construction firms and equipment manufacturers will stop – at least for many years – any change in how we produce structures here.
Koch Industries, for example, boasts the following on its website:
Next-generation building products: plywood, gypsum wallboard, fiberglass sheathing, and more. Our Georgia-Pacific building products have a reputation for quality that’s as solid as the buildings and houses they create.
The Koch Brothers‘ interests donated some $800 million in campaign support during the 2016 election. These are not the kind of elites who will be pleased with technology that impacts Georgia-Pacific.
Who needs forests for lumber, when we will use cement for framing and walls?
With immense influence not only at the federal level, Koch-approved NGOs have successfully lobbied state and local legislatures, so you can bet on new regulations that will make cement homes either restricted or too expensive to compete with wood and gypsum.
Still, the major opposition will come from home builders, who profit from the current methods that use strand board, 2x4s and vinyl walls – often installed by foreigners willing to work at almost any wage and not subject to Medicare and Social Security taxes. The Kochs may lose some money on refocusing Georgia-Pacific or expanding other operations, but that would be chicken feed to two guys worth a combined $106,000,000,000.
This video shows methods used by the new technology: