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Builders develop 3D-printed home that can withstand magnitude 7 earthquakes: 'Built to last'

"With this project, our company has confidently stepped into the future."

"With this project, our company has confidently stepped into the future."

Photo Credit: COBOD

Kazakhstan is perhaps best known in the United States for being the launch site of Russian rockets and Borat's home

But a durable 1,076-square-foot house in Almaty might well turn some heads as well, especially for folks living in areas prone to extreme weather made more likely by our overheating planet. 

The abode was completed in two months by BM Partners with a 3D printer from COBOD International, which has a U.S. office in New York City. It is built with very strong concrete, typically used in skyscrapers. As a result, it can withstand a magnitude 7 earthquake. 

For reference, Michigan Tech reports that such a magnitude represents a "major earthquake" with "serious damage."

The project is also touted by the builders as Central Asia's first 3D-printed dwelling. 

"With this project, our company has confidently stepped into the future, addressing Kazakhstan's urgent need for earthquake resistant modernized, efficient, and resilient housing solutions," BM CEO Marat Oshakhtiev said in a news release. 

While a first in Kazakhstan, 3D-printed homes have been popping up all over the place elsewhere. Many use recycled materials in the "ink," often a slurry that hardens in layers like concrete. Large, high-tech machines are used to lay down each section. It took COBOD's contraption only five days to "print" the walls for the home. 

In the U.S., around 40% of air pollution comes from construction and daily heating, cooling, and lighting inside buildings, per the American Institute of Architects. So, cleaner, sustainable tech that reduces planet-warming gasses is often a focus of 3D designs. One innovation keeps plastic junk from polluting our environment by turning the waste into printed homes

The Kazakh concrete includes polystyrene to help mitigate the region's extreme temperature shifts — from below zero to well over 100 degrees Fahrenheit. The concrete is also made with locally sourced sand and stone. The modern-looking home has other elements needed to meet quake safety codes. The concrete can withstand 8,500 pounds per square inch, which far surpasses the typical brick and stone used in other regional builds, all per COBOD. 

"This project once again demonstrates that 3D-printed buildings are built to last, also when made in earthquake high-risk areas," COBOD general manager Henrik Lund-Nielsen said

Tougher, efficient homes will likely be of increased importance in coming years as more communities become exposed to extreme weather, which is impacting insurance premiums and coverages. 

While it would be hard to match the Almaty house's quake-proof ability, beefing up your living area's energy efficiency is easily within reach via simple weatherization jobs, including adding insulation. Tax breaks can drive down the cost of insulation, doors, and windows, helping you to save hundreds of dollars a year while also preventing up to 1,600 pounds of air pollution annually. 

COBOD's home is now a showroom to highlight the technology involved with its construction. It's open for visitors, according to the designers. 

"Embracing modern technologies is essential in today's world. Our company is committed to staying at the forefront of technological advancements with 3D construction printing within our country," Oshakhtiev said.

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