Additive manufacturing (aka. 3-D printing) has triggered a revolution in fabrication, with applications ranging from consumer goods to artificial bones and organs. However, it is in the field of construction that the technology is making what may prove to be some of its greatest contributions.
In addition to being much more safe and cost-effective than traditional construction, 3-D printed housing is also much more eco-friendly and sustainable. This is due not only to the fact that far less materials are wasted in the process, but that waste materials can actually be re-purposed for new buildings.
That is the concept behind the manufacturing process used by Winsun, a Sunzou-based construction materials company that is currently spearheading a 3-D printed house-building project.
In recent weeks, it displayed its industrial-sized printer – a device that costs $5000 and is 6.6 meters tall, 10 meters wide and 150 meters long. This printer is apparently capable of printing whole wall segments in just minutes using “ink” that is a combination of cement and glass fiber as material. Already, the company claims to have built 10 200-spaure-meter homes. But most impressively, some of the materials are recycled from old buildings, tailings, and even industrial waste.
In a nod to China’s green agenda, Winsun said in the future it plans to use scrap material left over from construction and mining sites to make its 3-D buildings, and plans to build up to 100 facilities across China to process the waste and make it ready for the houses.
Its 3-D homes were printed in Suzhou and later assembled in Shanghai. And according to Chen Jiajia, a Winsun engineer, these homes will be used by local authorities as offices. Winsun says it estimates the cost of printing these homes is about half that of building them the traditional way.
Unfortunately, Mr. Chen also stressed that regulatory hurdles are an impediment to the technology being used more widely. Hence, while this use of additive manufacturing to produce housing is certainly impressive, it is not likely to be put into large-scale usage anytime soon.
Still, this latest example of 3-D printed housing does manage to showcase the technology and highlight the various ways it can benefit consumers, the housing industry, and the environment. Considering China’s continued concerns with urban growth, pollution, and environmental destruction, this latest demonstration may also help to raise awareness of the need for legal reform in China’s construction industry to allow for more environmentally-conscious methods.
Be sure to check out this video from China View of the Winsun houses being built:
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- Rapid Construction, China Style: 10 Houses in 24 Hours (blogs.wsj.com)
- Chinese Company Builds Houses Quickly With 3D Printing (mashable.com)
- 3D Printing Homes in Less Than 24 Hours Using Recycled Materials (hackaday.com)
- China: Recycled Concrete Houses 3D-Printed in 24 Hours (ibtimes.co.uk)
- Chinese Company Cranks Out 10 3D-Printed Houses In 24 Hours (inventorspot.com)
Categories: Manufacturing & Industry