Chinese company prints parts for ten houses and builds them all in one day

Apr 07, 2014 by Bob Yirka weblog
Credit: 3ders.org

(Phys.org) —Shang Hai company WinSun Decoration Design Engineering Co. has advanced the science of 3D printing by printing all of the parts needed to construct houses and then using those parts to build ten houses, all in just a single day. The finished houses are made of mostly concrete with other materials added for various purposes.

3D printing has become rather commonplace—college students across the country routinely print small objects both for educational purposes and for fun. And while the time may be approaching when most consumers will have a 3D printer in their home for on-demand product creation, the real action appears to be in the construction business. Some have suggested that of the future may take just an hour or so to print, reducing labor costs (and thus the cost of the house) to almost nothing. In this new effort, the team in China appears to be making that happen sooner rather than later.

WinSun isn't printing whole houses, instead, the company prints basic parts using concrete (with construction or industrial waste materials or tailing added to help reduce costs) as ink. The parts dry quickly and can then be used to assemble a complete 2,100 square foot house. Purists might argue that the company isn't technically printing houses, but the end result is the same—very little labor, low cost materials, and incredibly inexpensive (approximately $4,800) houses.

The houses built in China are in stark contrast to a project going on in Amsterdam, where a crew has begun work on a project that aims to print an entire 13 room house, including some of the furniture—all in one fell swoop. The timetable is three years and the finished product will likely wind up costing millions.

To print its house parts, WinSun uses a giant printer—it's 490 feet long by 33 feet wide and 20 feet deep—and unlike other companies, plans to use its printer to start printing parts for real houses for sale to consumers. To that end, the company has announced its intention to open 100 recycling factories to convert waste to make it suitable for adding to its concrete ink. Representatives for the country told the press that they believe their system can be used to create a very large number of affordable homes for impoverished people who now cannot afford a traditional house.

Explore further: Amsterdam canal house built with 3-D printer

More information: blog.archpaper.com/wordpress/archives/82299
www.3ders.org/articles/2014040… -built-in-a-day.html

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User comments : 14

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krundoloss
3 / 5 (2) Apr 07, 2014
Man, the Chinese are so efficient! I love the approach, why not take the manufacturing techniques, that have been perfected over the years, and applying them directly to a new industry? I do wonder about the houses themselves, do they have electrical, plumbing, flooring, sinks, baths and toilets? All 3D printed? THAT would be the real breakthrough.
Dichotomy
3.7 / 5 (3) Apr 07, 2014
Even without the fixtures, plumbing and electrical its great. Homes frequently have those systems redone. So long as there is space within the walls for those systems to be installed... There was a similar system that did all the walls in concrete on 60 minutes several years ago. One of the issues with that model (if I recall correctly) was that it couldn't handle putting rebar in which is necessary for building codes in every developed nation (even Haiti required rebar prior to the earthquake).
katesisco
5 / 5 (1) Apr 07, 2014
The concept of 'small' and 'efficient' and 'compact' have all been done; is just a new name for old. I remember that shipping containers were used to create an all-in-one house supposed to be for catastrophe victims but here Haiti is still without homes or rather usable homes. One charity - run outfit built homes without a water source. great ideas that go no where.
krundoloss
3.5 / 5 (2) Apr 07, 2014
This is nice, but I still think the real revolutionary technology is printing an entire ANYTHING all at once, with moving parts, multiple materials, etc. Once you get it going, why would you ever make something any other way?

But yes, it does seem that this is more of a proof of concept than anything else. Cant wait to get a 1 rating!
antialias_physorg
5 / 5 (4) Apr 07, 2014
I do wonder about the houses themselves, do they have electrical, plumbing, flooring, sinks, baths and toilets?

If they add a second material to print with (e.g. some plastic) then you could very well print the plumbing, floors, sinks (functioning), toilets (functioning), and baths (functioning) - as well as cable conduits for electricals. Two material print heads shouldn't be too difficult to combine.

While one could even envison printing the electrical cables in situ with a third head that requires high temperatures and might melt the conduits.

And of course the really nice thing is: you're not confined to 4 square walls and a triangular roof. It's pretty cool that someone finally did this (at an affordable price).
Newbeak
5 / 5 (1) Apr 07, 2014
Concrete used for homes in earthquake prone areas like China is a bad idea.I think SIP construction could work with these printers.You get a super insulated house that is earthquake/tornado resistant:http://starcraftc.../sip.htm
Lex Talonis
not rated yet Apr 08, 2014
Actually without even seeing the process in action....

Me thinks that the "3D printing" of concrete, is more of a thickened / fibre reinforced slurry with a low build heights due to slumping.

Or they could be "printing" up a layer oat a time on 100 sections, and by the time they do all of them, the first one has partially cured, enough to pour a second layer etc...

In all honesty, I think it's main advantage is to cast concrete without forms (molds) - but as to why they could not simply cast these parts in "forms" as single pieces, and simply create a large number of molds to do all the production line casting into.

cjn
5 / 5 (1) Apr 08, 2014
This has the potential to be an incredible boon for the developing world.. Imagine shipping a few of these printers and the matrix making equipment to a country after a war or disaster to support a rebuild effort. A few people and some logistics could accomplish more than what we can do with hundreds or thousands of people and massive logistics support now (look at Haiti for example).
orti
5 / 5 (1) Apr 12, 2014
This just in: The tanks form Tiananmen Square have just finished escorting ten families to state provided housing. Long live the glorious revolution.
Captain Stumpy
5 / 5 (1) Apr 13, 2014
If they add a second material to print with (e.g. some plastic) then you could very well print the plumbing, floors, sinks (functioning), toilets (functioning), and baths (functioning) - as well as cable conduits for electricals. Two material print heads shouldn't be too difficult to combine.
While one could even envison printing the electrical cables in situ with a third head that requires high temperatures and might melt the conduits
@AA_P
you know, the only flaw I see with that is replacement parts...
houses are known to depreciate or become dilapidated over time, especially with kids. then there is the code modifications.

this can be a great low cost housing initiative, or faster production, but that still leaves the replacement issue lost in space unless all parts printed are sectional and removable, which adds to the cost/time.
The finished houses are made of mostly concrete with other materials added for various purposes
I wonder if rebar is included?

NIACfan
5 / 5 (1) Apr 14, 2014
This is cool, but Behrokh Khoshnevis, at the University of California, San Diego, has developed a technique he calls Contour Crafting to print the house in concrete on site, including all the conduits for infrastructure. His flexible approach can print essentially any floorplan, including multistories. NASA was so impressed with his technique they have funded him to look at ways to apply it to building structures on the Moon and Mars (with local regolith, not concrete).
NIACfan
not rated yet Apr 14, 2014
Oops, I got Professor Khosnevis at the wrong university: He is at the University of Southern California.
SURFIN85
1 / 5 (1) Apr 14, 2014
There are also plans by the Communist Party authorities to print a version of the house with no door or windows that can be assembled around political dissidents and artists. Convenient!
antialias_physorg
5 / 5 (2) Apr 14, 2014
you know, the only flaw I see with that is replacement parts...

At that cost (and time it takes to build) scrapping/rebuilding from scratch is an option every few years when you don't like the way the thing is laid out. Or the pattern of the floor doesn't suit you anymore. Or you want an extra room. Or you want to add a cellar in post.
Or...

Homes will no longer be the "build-once-must-last-forever" commodity.

Note to self: Do not invest in housing market anymore.

unless all parts printed are sectional and removable

Given the right material you could print the walls and the plumbing from the same material. I.e.: The plumbing would be just hollows in the walls. There would be nothing that could break or leak - ever. You would never need replacement parts for anything of the sort ever again.