Photo by Shannon Ainsley
Dignitaries at Alquist 3D event on Pierce Avenue: From left: Jonathan Sweet (County Administrator), Zachary Mannheimer (Founder/CEO of Alquist 3D), John Travis (County Supervisor), Congressman Morgan Griffith, Dirk Compton (County Supervisor) and Luigi Di Geso (President and CEO, Mapai North America).
By WILLIAM PAINE
For The Patriot
Friday April 29 – Representatives of the Town of Pulaski welcomed business and government officials to a ceremony marking the arrival of a 3D printing machine, which is capable of constructing an entire house within a matter of hours.
The event took place on a lot bordering Pierce Avenue at the intersection of 1st Street NE. The enormous 3D printing machine is located on one side of the road, while on the other side, two freshly bulldozed lots will be where two new houses will be situated.
Alquist 3D, the company responsible for building these houses, partnered with Black Buffalo 3D, the company that manufactures these 3D printers, with the idea of manufacturing 200 of these 3D printed houses throughout Southwest Virginia.
These structures are manufactured by secreting layer after layer of concrete that is injected by a huge 3D Printing Machine that operates by a computer program. The main advantage of building these types of structures is the relative low cost of this technique and the speed that a house can be erected.
“As a nation, we are experiencing an affordable housing crisis,” said Jane E. Miller, Deputy Regional Administrator, U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development.
“Half a million Americans on any given night are homeless. Eighteen million Americans spend more than 50 percent of their income on housing, whether it be on rent or mortgage. So, 3D printed construction can be a tool to solve the housing crisis.”
“The mission has always been about building community,” stated Alquist 3D Founder and CEO Zachary Mannheimer. “That is the goal and that is what we are using this big machine to do. If we are going to build community, you have to have places to live.”
“Having housing in rural areas is so important,” said Congressman Morgan Griffith.
“When I heard about this event, I said, ‘That’s exciting! I want to go there and be in Pulaski.’ And when people see these homes, they’re going to say the same thing: ‘We want to be in Pulaski.’”
According to Pulaski Town Manager Darlene Burcham, Alquist 3D has only built two of these 3D printed structures in Virginia thus far, one in Richmond and the other in Williamsburg. In order to bring the operation to Pulaski, town officials offered to clear and grade two lots on Pierce Avenue, so as to provide a place that these structures could be built.
These first two Alquist built homes will be comprised of three bedrooms with one and a half baths. One of these two houses will be sold, while the other will be kept on display as a model home that they could also use to house their staff when in town.
The cost of this single-story house along with the lot is estimated to be about $170,000.
According to Burcham, the 3D machine currently residing on Pierce Avenue has the capability of constructing homes up to three stories high, while walls may be lengthened as desired.
As the ceremony continued, some local business leaders added their thoughts on the 3D housing project.
“What a great demonstration of the technology that is shaping a new future for us here in Virginia,” said James Hardie Plant Manager Phil Morabito. “I’m honored to represent the 400-plus associates that work at the James Hardie plant in Pulaski. We need homes and projects like this, so we don’t have to keep expanding our radius to attract talent. This affordable innovation in housing is so desperately needed in our community as we expand and bring these jobs to the area.”
“As I sit and watch these folks speaking today, I think about Hellen Keller,” said Marcus Thompson, Communications Manager at Volvo Trucks. “One time she made a comment about how she felt sorry for people that have eyesight, but no vision. If you look at 3D printing and the things that go on in our community, you begin to think about people with a vision of creating a brighter future.”
Pulaski Mayor Shannon Collins added this thought.
“Pulaski is like a phoenix. We have been down for a long time, and this is our time to come into the 21st century. There are so many jobs coming to our area and there’s nowhere to live. We are excited to be the first site of a production of this scale in Virginia.”
3D Printing Machine Constructing walls