By Ben Gardell | 3D Printing Consultant
In the Suzhou Industrial Park, of east China’s Jiangsu Province, a company by the name of WinSun Decoration Design Engineering Company has announced that they have built a 3D printed 5-story residential house and the world’s first 3D printed villa. The company specializes in 3D printing for large scale construction. The basic process of these 3D printing behemoths is very similar to that of the Stratasys FDM technology. The main differences come down to the extruded material. The printers used at R&D Technologies and in the Stratasys line use thermoplastics, liquid photopolymers, and wax. The WinSun group is offering their exclusive material, which is a mixture of recycled construction waste, glass fiber, steel, cement and special additives. According to the companies’ spokesperson, "Waste from recycling construction and mining produces a lot of carbon emissions, but with 3D printing, the company has turned that waste into brand new building materials." This material is also flexible, self-insulating and resistant to earthquakes. The machine used was massive, standing at 20 feet tall, 33 feet wide and 132 feet long. The walls and other components of the structure were fabricated offsite and are built with a diagonally reinforced interior structure. This is much like the raster technique used by Stratasys’ FDM technology. This technique allows for the use of less material, shortens print time, and in this case allows for the use of structural fillers. The company then placed beam columns and steel rebar within the walls, along with insulation, reserving space for pipes, electrical lines, windows and doors.
The thought of building such large structures with 3D Printing is truly fascinating. Many new innovative ideas have been brought to the table, such as inlaying facilities at the same time as printing, building custom structures never possible before and building in remote locations that were never even reachable by conventional building techniques. Many have speculated the possibility of building cost effective structures for extreme poverty. As it always has been, these are just another way 3D Printing pushes the boundaries of design and innovation in ways never seen before.