Back on 1st April, we printed an article that many took as far-fetched foolery appropriate to the date. WinSun Decoration and Design Engineering Company, a Chinese firm, 3D printed ten houses, each one taking just an hour to make.
Amazingly, the story was 100% true and, three months later, another Chinese company is aiming to refine the technology even further. Qingdao Unique Product have spent the last six months developing and manufacturing the largest 3D printer on the planet, a 120 ton behemoth with a whooping 12m x 12m x 12m build volume, with the intention of printing whole buildings in a single go.
While projects such as DUS Architects’ Amsterdam Canal House are made up of numerous individually 3D printed blocks that are then fitted together to form a whole building, Qingdao Unique’s machine extrudes a single structure, with no further assembly required.
The device prints using Fused Deposition Modelling in grapheme glass fibre reinforced plastic, a lighter, stronger, more corrosion resistant and greener filament than plastic.
The company unveiled the device at the 2014 World 3D Printing Technology Industry Conference in Qingdao, before moving it to the high tech zone of the local 3D Print Park (yes, they have such things in China), where it can be visited by members of the general public.
To show off what this device can do, the team are printing off a 7 metre high replica of the Temple of Heaven, the largest extant sacrificial temple in China. It will boast a 100 m² floor space and will require 20 tons of material. This is in contrast with the 150 tons of concrete that would generally go in to such a structure.
It will take between 6 to 8 months to print and, if the project is successful, will be the largest 3D printed structure ever.