Business & economy, Uncategorized

Builder close to printing Malheur County’s first 3D house

ONTARIO – An Ontario entrepreneur aiming to build houses in the region faster, cheaper and with fewer people by using 3D printing technology is about two months away from completing a “pilot” home in Malheur County. 

Shawn McKay said his company, Layer Line 3D, is working on Malheur County’s first 3D-printed home in an unincorporated part of the county with a buyer planning to move in in about two months. The two-bedroom, two-bathroom home will be 1,000 square feet with a patio, according to McKay. He said the home would have an open floor plan with a vaulted ceiling. 

McKay’s company is also behind Oregon’s first 3D-printed home in John Day. This is the company’s first home and the first done this way in the state. McKay said the home should be completed within the next couple of months.

McKay said he is getting appraisal for the home in Malheur County, but said that 3D-printed homes elsewhere have been valued between $250,000 and $450,000. He said the company’s goal is to build affordable homes. 

He expects them to be near current prices. McKay declined to say how much the home sold for.

He said the goal is to build each house in about a month. McKay said he and his staff hope to print walls in a little over one day. During that time, he said, there will be pauses in the work for site inspections and plumbing and electrical installations. 

What is a 3D printer?

Sometimes called additive manufacturing, 3D printing is a process of making an object by depositing material one thin layer at a time.

Invented in the 1980s by engineer Chuck Hull, the technology has exploded in the last decade.

While the technology has been widely used, McKay said the government permitting process had yet to catch up when he established Layer Line 3D. According to McKay, no structural code existed on the state or national level for 3D-printed construction.

Last year, McKay said he used a spec home in Malheur County to familiarize state building code officials with the 3D printing process. 

McKay said Layer Line aims to establish 3D printing as a new regional industry. 

The company, which employs about 10 people, leased property on the old Ontario Golf Course last year. McKay said the company plans to build a training center to teach others how to use a 3D printer.  

With the state being tasked to ramp up the production of homes to stem Oregon’s housing shortage and homelessness crisis, finding construction workers is a challenge. The median age of a construction worker is over 40 and workers are retiring faster than employers can recruit them. With that, McKay said builders need to look for more efficient ways to construct homes. That’s where 3D printing comes in, he said. 

He said technology such as 3D printing is more affordable because of the automated process. Builders are less dependent on supply chains and an aging labor force. 

McKay said in addition to John Day, his company has several projects planned across eastern Oregon. 

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