Making a case for 3D printing for housing delivery in South Africa

Douglas Aghimien, Clinton Aigbavboa, Lerato Aghimien, Wellington D. Thwala, Lebu Ndlovu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose: Considering the need for standard and cost-effective housing delivery in South Africa, this study aims to make a case for three-dimensional (3D) printing in housing delivery through an assessment of the inherent benefits and the factors that could acts as barriers to its adoption. Design/methodology/approach: The study used a survey of construction professionals currently actively involved in a construction project in the country. Analysis of data gathered was done using a four-step analysis approach and relevant descriptive and inferential statistics were adopted. Findings: The study revealed through factor analysis that 3D printing in housing delivery promises better cost delivery, increased productivity and stakeholder satisfaction, socio-economic benefits, improved quality and faster housing delivery. While these benefits exist, factors such as technical and operational issues of the 3D printing itself, organizational and personnel issues as well as lack of awareness of the inherent benefits and understanding of the technology among stakeholders can prove to be barriers to the adoption of the technology. Practical implications: In the quest to achieve standard and affordable housing which is part of its National Development Plan 2030, the government can adopt 3D printing which promises significant benefits in terms of cost, time, quality, productivity and stakeholders’ satisfaction. Property developers can also adopt the technology to improve their housing delivery, competitive advantage and the economic value of their properties. Originality/value: The study contributes significantly to the body of knowledge as it reveals the benefits and barriers of adopting 3D printing in housing delivery in South Africa – an aspect that has not gained significant attention in the fourth industrial revolution and housing delivery discuss in the country.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)565-581
Number of pages17
JournalInternational Journal of Housing Markets and Analysis
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 16 Jun 2020


  • 3D printing
  • Additive manufacturing
  • Automation and robotics
  • Contour crafting
  • Housing
  • South Africa

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Economics, Econometrics and Finance (all)


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