Montana approves use of 3D printing to build walls

State is first in nation to make the move

Apis Cor's Anna Cheniuntai (Apis Cor, Getty Images)
Apis Cor's Anna Cheniuntai (Apis Cor, Getty Images)

Montana has become the first state to approve broad regulatory use of 3D-printing for walls instead of concrete masonry units or cored concrete blocks, a potentially cheaper way to build homes.

Single-family homes planned by Billings contractor Tim Stark won approval after he filed documents and testing reports developed by Florida’s Apis Cor, a construction technology company, the company said in a statement. Apis says it’s the only such company to have designed 3D-printed walls that comply with international building codes and has completed multiple pilot homes in the U.S. and United Arab Emirates.

“In so many states, regulations are getting in the way of building more homes,” Stark, who was seeking permission to build in Billings and elsewhere in the state, said in the statement. “I’m proud of my home state of Montana.”

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The National Fire Protection Association published the specifications, which were tested by an independent, third-party lab in Boston. Costs for home construction costs using 3D-printing can be as much as 30 percent less than traditional methods, Apis said.

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Average Montana home prices jumped 24 percent last year, compared with 17 percent across the nation, and are up 32 percent in two years, according to the Federal Housing Finance Agency.

“Having this clear support from the state of Montana paves the way for faster decisions at the county level, which will make it easier for developers to move forward on their 3D-printed housing projects,” Apis CEO Anna Cheniuntai said in the statement.