Here’s another post celebrating the wonders of 3D printing. We already know pretty much anything can be 3D printed, so these stories are largely about people imagining something new and awesome to make, which is happening more and more. Our aspirations for 3D printing are becoming bigger and more complex — NASA’s using one in space and will soon be using Contour Crafting technology to print structures on the moon. But before that happens, it seems reasonable to practice 3D printing some houses here on Earth, which Shanghai’s WinSun Decoration Design Engineering Company has just done, putting up 10 3D-printed houses in Shanghai in under 24 hours.
The houses are made of concrete and were created with an enormous 3D printer. They’re not particularly fancy, but they are cheap — about $4,800 each. WinSun has been working on the materials and process for printing these house for a while, and has racked up 77 Chinese patents for the materials used in the houses, including a special kind of cement reinforced with glass fiber. The design of the houses leaves space for necessities such as insulation, plumbing, electrical wiring, and windows, which can be added after the structure of the houses is printed.
3D printers can make pretty much anything, depending on the raw materials fed into them. Instead of ink, plastic, or cells, these printers use a combination of cement and glass fibers made from recycled construction and industrial waste. WinSun eventually plans to build a bunch of recycling factories in China and use those to continue producing its housing materials. They’re determined not to generate any new waste from their enterprise. This means the construction of the houses will be up to 50% cheaper than their conventionally built counterparts, which makes them a great option for low-cost housing.
Maybe the most impressive aspect of the project is the printer itself, which is almost 500 feet long, 33 feet wide, and 20 feet high. I’d love it if that 3D printer printed other 3D printers, but that doesn’t seem to be the case, at least for now.