How do you build 10 fully self-contained homes in under 24 hours? If you're WinSun Decoration Design Engineering Co., you fire up a monumental 3D printing device which uses concrete material to create a series of forms which can then be assembled to make a structure.
The printer, a truly whopping 105 feet long, 33 feet wide and 21 feet tall, is built on a massive scale and looks a little like an icing bag used to decorate cakes. The machine spits out a cement-like material to create the incredibly cheap "home framing" from construction and other industrial waste.
The finished product, a building which is somewhere around 650 square feet, costs only $4,800 to complete. While it may not be the first attempt – or the most hyped – to 3D print a house, it is fast, economical and reasonably environmentally friendly.
The material used to print the WinSun house was developed by Chinese firm Systech which currently holds 50 national patents. As part of their Ying Heng stone product line, Systech developed GRG, or glass fiber reinforced gypsum board – for use in constructing theaters, stadiums and conference halls. The company says their Ying Heng Stone is the product of years of research and development and can be used to construct floors, walls and roofing due to its high strength and wear resistance. WinSun say the material can be combined with glass, shells and other materials and output in a variety of textures.
"We purchased parts for the printer overseas, and assembled the machine in a factory in Suzhou. This new type of 3D printed structure is environment friendly – and cost-effective," according to Ma Yihe, CEO of WinSun.
Yihe says that with the use of computer and 3D modeling software, designs for the building can easily incorporate additions such as insulation materials, plumbing, electrical wiring and window placement.
"There won't be any waste from the construction of new buildings and 3D printing will save construction companies up to 50 percent on the cost," Yihe says.
Yihe added that the renowned housing and holding company, Tomson Group Limited, has already approached WinSun with the intention of using the technology to construct a whole village, and Yihe says there are plans on the drawing board which would see his company build 100 recycling factories across China to collect and recycle construction waste for the process.
A 3D printed house project is also slated for construction in Shandong Province at the Qingdao International Sculpture Park which will be used to showcase new technologies and various 3D printed products.
WinSun rolled out the GRG material product in December of last year at the Shanghai International 3D Printing Technology Summit at the Shanghai International Convention Center. Xi'an Jiaotong University Engineering Professor Lu Bingheng and Tsinghua University professor Yan Yongnian were on hand to deliver talks about 3D printing and closely related fields.