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You could be forgiven for thinking that 3D printing is a new phenomenon. After all, it has only really been newsworthy for the past two or three years. However, Winsun China, have had big plans for 3D printing since 2005 when they invented a 3D print nozzle capable of extruding concrete. In 2008, they put the technology into practice by printing an actual wall.
In March, 2014, Winsun announced that they had built 10 3D houses in a 24-hour period. No, not dolls’ houses, but full size residences! Each 200m2 home was produced at a cost of around $4800 without fixtures or fittings. The process used recycled building waste including concrete, glass, fibreglass and steel. At the time, inventor and Winsun owner, Ma Yi He said that the process was still under development.
Just 10 months later, Winsun have now completed a very substantial 1100m2 villa as well as a five-storey apartment complex. The structures are strong, well insulated, and can be rendered to give a high-quality finish equal to any other building. According to Winsun, there is a 60% saving on materials, a 70% time-saving and the labour component is reduced by 80%!
The ‘ink’ is the result of 12 years research and allows for print tolerances as small as 1 mm. The finished product is about half the weight of a conventional concrete and brick alternative yet offers greater earthquake resilience and is capable of withstanding higher wind speeds.
You can expect to see 3D printed houses in your neighborhood ‘real soon now’! Winsun have signed joint-venture agreements to build printers globally. Over the next three years, they will set up factories in more than 25 countries including Korea, Russia, Saudi Arabia, the U.A.E, Qatar, Morocco, Tunisia and the United States!
They are also sitting on orders for 200 homes for the Egyptian government following the delivery of a prototype, together with orders for a further 10 luxury villas from the same developer who orders the 1100m2 villa featured above. Repeat orders like that don’t happen unless there is very high customer satisfaction!.
From our perspective, we’re witnessing the greatest innovation in housing in centuries. Speed, zero waste, minimal noise , structural integrity and affordability add up to a real winner. And, for the owner-builder, what could be better? Get your shell up quickly and cost-efficiently and then get on with the DIY fitout!
What do you think? Can you see a 3D printed home in your future?