A little while back we wrote about the University of South California Professor Behrokh Khoshnevis and his Contour Crafting rapid prototyping method. Essentially, Khoshnevis and his research team developed the process in order to 3D print buildings layer by layer, supporting a more cost effective, more environmentally friendly and, crucially, faster construction industry.
Amazingly enough, the team promised that, one day, they would be able to print houses up to 2,500 square feet in size in less than 20 hours.
The claim seemed more like a far off estimation as opposed to a genuine prognostication at the time but, just four months later, a Chinese design and engineering company has apparently fired off ten 3D printed houses, with each one taking a mere hour to create. Not only that, the houses cost 30,000 RMB a pop to build – less than £3,000.
WinSun Decoration Design Engineering Company has been developing the material and printer for years in the run up to the project. It’s a monster of a machine, with dimensions of (L x W x H) 150 x 10 x 6.6 metres, printing in high grade cement and glass fibre.
During the design process the company took into account issues like insulation, plumbing, electrical lining and windows.
All materials used in the 200 square meter buildings were created from recycled construction waste, industrial waste and tailings. In order to continue with 3D print construction projects, WinSun is planning to open 100 recycling factories across China, in which waste is collected and recycled, using specially developed handling, processing and separation technology.
Thanks to this efficient process, companies could reduce their spending as much as 50% on each building project.
As WinSun CEO Ma YiHe explains it:
There will not be any waste from the construction of new buildings.
So, 3D printing is more affordable, safer, easier and quicker than traditional construction methods. Is there any potential downside? Well, only the possibility that it could put every construction worker on the planet out of work. The aforementioned Professor Khoshnevis dismissed the worry pretty curtly, calling the industry
Wasteful, emission causing and corruption prone. And the cost is always over budget.
Is the death of construction inevitable? If WinSun’s work continues successfully, it is difficult to see it surviving. Then again, until people have actually lived in 3D printed houses, nobody can vouch for their comfort or safety. All of that makes it another definite ‘watch this space’ story for 2014.