Will 3D-printed homes be the next wave of construction coming to Vancouver?
A Suzhou, China-based company is experimenting with building homes using a large 3D printer and recycling construction waste, and the resulting product is just short of miraculous. WinSun, or Yingchuang in China, uses a specialty “ink” in its printers made out of construction waste such as high-quality stone, cement and fibre. That, combined with digital designs, prints walls, bricks and insulation.
According to the site 3ders.com, 10 3D printed homes arrived in Shanghai in March 2014, each measuring 200 square metres with construction costs just under $6,000 CAD. The homes only took 24 hours to build.
WinSun prides itself on innovating the building industry by increasing speed, decreasing costs and lowering carbon emissions and waste. Their website claims that their company can save 60 per cent of material costs, 80 per cent of labour costs and reduce construction time by 70 per cent.
Chief engineer of China Construction No.8 Engineering Bureau, Ma Rongquan believes the properties “are in full compliance with the relevant national standards. It is safe, reliable, and features a good integration of architecture and decoration. But as there is no specific national standard for 3D printing architecture, we need to revise and improve such a standard for the future.”
In short, the technology is so new, it is hard to determine how the safety of these buildings align with typical construction. Building code from region to region varies significantly, so the chance of seeing these homes on the market in Vancouver any time soon is a long-shot. But these limits have not stopped WinSun from expanding.
The company’s most prestigious house to date is a 1,100 square metre villa for a Taiwanese-owned real estate company that cost only $200,000 CAD. With WinSun’s growing renown, demand for their product around the world has taken off. For instance, WinSun’s websites states that a house on display at Suzhou Industrial Park was just one of 20,000 ordered by the Egyptian Government. WinSun will also collaborate with an American firm to bring affordable housing to low-income families in Africa and the Middle East.
In a media event in January, the company’s CEO Ma Yi He said future projects may included 3D-printed bridges and office towers.