Architects and developers around the world are racing to design and create the world’s first 3D printed homes.
The development of this technology is a breakthrough – something that will have profound implications for housing affordability and customisation.
While the earliest 3D printing technologies first became visible in the late 1980s, it’s only recently that people have really started to embrace and utilise the technology.
A Shanghai-based construction firm WinSun Decoration Design Engineering is arguably at the forefront of 3D-printed housing, unveiling one of the first 3D constructed buildings in the world. The 5-storey apartment building was made entirely by giant 3D printers.
With a terra cotta brick-looking exterior, the building was made with a patented ‘ink’ formed from a mixture of recycled construction waste and cement, coursed through a 150-metre long printer. The development, currently being heralded as the tallest 3D-printed building in the world, is currently on display at the Suzhou Industrial Park.
WinSun have continued to make waves with their 3D-printed homes, printing 10 affordable single-story houses in just 24-hours. Each house was around 650 square feet and cost under $5000 each to make. Again, the company used recycled construction waste and cement to ‘print’ the homes.
The speed and functionality in the way the homes were built showcases the practical potential of the technology.
The company used just four 3D-printers that stood around 20 feet high, 33 feet wide and 132 feet long. The printers push through the building materials, forming walls a single layer at a time. Once printed, the walls are joined together to form the houses.
Not stopping there, WinSun have just unveiled their third, and by far most spectacular product – a 12,000 square foot 3D-printed mansion.
Also housed in the Suzhou Industrial Park, ten of these mansions have been ordered by a Taiwanese real estate group, and the Egyptian government has reportedly ordered 20,000 of the single-storey homes.
The printed mansion cost around $161,000 to build, saving thousands on labour, construction and materials.
Speaking to 3D-printing blog 3Ders, chief engineer of China Construction Ma Rongquan inspected each of the printed buildings and found that all were up to code and complied with national standards for construction and building. He did note however that no standards for 3D-printed building actually existed.
“We need to revise and improve such a standard for the future,” he said.
Other firms are starting to jump onto the technology, with Dutch architecture studio – DUS Architects – releasing plans to build the first 3D-printed canal house in Amsterdam.
Speaking to Dezeen Magazine, project architect Hedwig Heinsman said the final product will act as the hub for further research into 3D-printed architecture.
“We want to build a construction site as an event space,” he said.
“We’ll have the printer there and every print we make will be exhibited. It’s very much about testing and learning.”