3D Printing Homes In Less Than 24 Hours Using Recycled Materials

3d printed house in china

While many 3D printer companies are racing towards smaller and smaller accurate printers, a company in China called the Shanghai WinSun Decoration Design Engineering Company is experimenting with a monstrous 3D printer the size of half of an Olympic sized swimming pool.

The mammoth of a printer measures 32m by 10m by 6.6m and can print 200sqf detached single story homes. The printer uses FDM technology and deposits a mixture of cement and construction waste to build the walls. According to the company, it can cost less than $5000 a house, and the printer can spit out 10 houses a day!

The printer was designed a few years ago, and WinSun purchased the parts for it from overseas, and then had it assembled in a factory in Suzhou. They plan to print an entire villa of these homes, and to start building recycling facilities in China to collect material for use in the printer. The first home for sale will be located in Qingdao.

Using FDM technology it is possible to lay down a truss support system within the cement beams, saving weight and increasing strength at the same time.



It’s definitely way faster than the KamerMaker in the Netherlands! We’re looking at another 2-3 years before the 3D printed canal house gets built…

[Via BBC News, thanks Ferdinand!]

46 thoughts on “3D Printing Homes In Less Than 24 Hours Using Recycled Materials

  1. Can’t help but think this particular application for 3D printing is an infant technology looking for a meaningful application. I’ll stick with plastic parts for the time being.

    1. “looking for a meaningful application”

      Yeah why don’t you let us know when you find an application for an enormous 3-D printer that’s more “meaningful” than putting roofs over people’s heads. Maybe you were thinking of making some enormous chess pieces or a giant-size smartphone bracket or perhaps a bobblehead of your favorite football player?

      1. Yeah, that’s fiddly crap like anything Chinese. You’re much better off with the much more expensive yank hollow plywood houses that can take a severe beating in tornadoes… oh, wait.

        1. The hollow part is for insulation, because snow.

          I live in a very pretty old-world style brick house. It is terrible by comparison to a standard stick house. Less insulation, hard to change anything, and from an engineering perspective, less secure. If a tornado went through my house, the roof will disappear and the walls may stay…they also may fall over into the basement killing the otherwise safe residents.

          I don’t trust Chinese oscilloscopes to keep doing their job. I don’t trust Chinese furniture to last more than a couple years. Why would you trust a brand new technology from a culture known to dangerously cut corners to not collapse on your face compared to a tried and true building technique that houses over a billion people around the world?

          1. Modern brick houses are double walled, and well insulated in-between. Just sayin’.

            Agreed fully on the second paragraph. It wasn’t in China I think, but there was a rolling apartment building somewhere once.

          2. Is was proven yesterday, again what a shoddy build deathtrap wood-box houses are. Not only that but they perfectly define everything that is wrong about the US mentality. That their insulation is better is pure nonsense. For more than 60 years double walled houses have had insulation in between the walls. On top of that brick is a proper thermal-mass, keeping things cooler for longer in summer and warmer in winter without having to burn fuel like it’s going out of fashion.
            Regarding cheap Chinese stuff. It’s generally the same as cheap American crud, only less expensive.

  2. Look at the photo where he is standing in the structure, it has some kind of wire grid substructure that you can only see in the large image. You don’t see it in the close up on its side though?

  3. The claim on price is random, nobody says things like they . homes are always quoted as Dollars per square foot. so is that $5000 for a 6500 sq foot american Mc-Mansion or the 220 foot Japanese apartment? and is that fully ready to go with silly luxuries like plumbing and electrical wiring?

    1. Oh and Foam Form and concrete pouring is faster than this process, not as cheap because in the USA concrete is price gouged along with labor. Concrete guys get $35 an hour. but you can build the entire structure of the home (they cant claim any different) in a matter of hours.

          1. @DarwinSurvivor You precast concrete in order to outsource it. I worked on a job in New Jersey where the precast sections came from Texas. I can guarantee you they weren’t speaking any English where they were making those castings.

        1. It is price gouging when “labor” gets paid more without a college education than many people with college educations; nurses and teachers to name a few. But enlighten me, how skilled are these pumpers exactly, two three years experience before they can man a trowel?

          1. Sounds like someone doesn’t like supply and demand. If there is a shortage of people needed to pump cement, wages will go up. If society trains too many teachers, their salaries slip. I happen to know there are tons of trained teachers who are not teaching.

            Your hard work and desire for wish-fulfilment do not guarantee you a premium wage. You had one task; to choose a career wisely, and even 25 years ago there was plenty of warning that blue collar trades were facing shortages.

            You’re also a bit of a bigot. There is nothing to suggest that all the cement guys are stupid. In fact, some might prefer that work to hanging around an office with the likes of YOU.

          2. @Alan: Funny you call someone a bigot but yet you basically called teachers and nurses stupid for choosing their careers. I hope that any nurse caring for you when you eventually need it, or any teacher educating your spawn doesn’t catch what you just said. Good job Alan, does your bum still hurt?

        2. It is gouging. Do you really think concrete guys make 70k a year? I can’t speak for everywhere, but 15 an hour doing concrete work is as good as it gets outside of being a foreman in the midwest.

          1. Many concrete folks don’t make the big bucks, but some do, normally the designers, engineers, contractors, managers, etc but not the ‘worker bees’. Neither do CNC operators, but folks that design and build items run through the CNC machines can. The same can be said for carpenters, mechanics, and most trades people. There are always exceptions, but we are painting with generalities here.

            Pay for concrete workers is just defined well in a specific market area.

            In my area, finishers get paid better, general ‘concrete workers’ aren’t so lucky. As always, management gets paid better than hands on workers.

  4. I think they are on the right track. As for wires, plumbing, etc, channels can be left in the wall for quick routing. OTOH, transporting those houses (or 3D printer) around the country might be rather expensive. So I’m thinking this is best suited for smaller easily transportable homes/cabins.

    1. I am imagining where you erect the printer around the house lot and let it print the walls while you bring in the floors and install the utilities while the printer does its job. Just feed the machine and assist where necessary. You could fit everything on a single 60 foot semi trailer.

  5. I think that some of you are not fully comprehending how amazing the hollow truss concrete form is.. even just that one that they built, no roofing material required. Anything added to the exterior is just to pretty it up. With a little more design work we can see embedded things to make utility installs a snap. I like where this is going.

  6. My colleagues in the Civil Engineering department at Loughborough University have been 3d printing in cement for a while now ( see http://www.lboro.ac.uk/service/publicity/news-releases/2012/61_Freeform.html). They leave voids for services and for reinforcement when needed. They acknowledge that additive manufacturing in cement will struggle to compete with current tech for standard houses etc. It does open up the possibility of projects with complex surfaces that have no two parts the same shape.

  7. Here in Viet Nam, a brick house of similar size with concrete smeared over the brick already costs about 5000$

    Plumbing/electrical are done over the walls in insulated conduits, not inside of them. No electrical ground. Ugly, but easy to access and repair. Just don’t touch your computer case. Despite the above, it’s nicer and more convenient than you might think. I’ve lived in one for about 2 years, and I have to say it’s more secure, cleaner, and generally better than any apartment I had in Canada.

    Cabling is managed by just drilling holes wherever. Wireless also works well due to the small area and the fact you can buy huge wireless antennas at the corner store.

    In short, if there were priced a bit lower to compete with local housing, I’d totally consider buying one.

  8. How about using this technique with a polymer based resin and steel reinforcement. A plastic house? How about a hybrid using multiple print heads for differing materials? While this may not be IDEAL, it is an IDEA and with the high cost of housing, a good effort that should be explored in a world where the homeless population increases every day.

    Given the choice between NOTHING and something like this, I think you’d be happy with something like this. What makes me concerned is that this type of thinking used to evolve and get birthed in THIS COUNTRY! We used to have innovations of this type all the time. Now China is taking the lead.

    Can we focus on how to solve a housing crisis, allowing low and no income families to have a place to call home (and I know that it’s not much of one, but any shelter in the face of the elements is better than no shelter.)?

    Unfortunately nothing like this will exist here or in China to solve societal ills….until some rich investor can figure out how to turn this technology into CA$H….it will do nothing worthwhile.

  9. So many people saying because it’s Chinese it doesn’t work, not good ,this and that.
    I remind you there’s no another machine like this in the world. Not in America,not in Europe or anywhere else.
    It’s annoying to read comments so full of prejudice and ignorance.
    Guys,just take as a man.The Chinese did it…and better than any other country.
    Does it need to be improved?Maybe, but that’s something can be done easily.
    Good for the guys who created paper,powder,missils, and many other inventions.

  10. This thing would be great for NASA’s lunar base programme – sure, it’s bulky and heavy, but imagine: machine like this rolls out on moon’s surface, shoves in local regolite and spits out ready-to-use housing for astronauts. All this with none or skeletal crew and no materials from Earth.

  11. Well, I gotta say, after 30 years of forming and placing concrete for everything from sidewalks to chip fabs, it’s really fascinating listening to speculation about concrete construction by people that know absolutely nothing about concrete.
    The wire mesh someone picked out is probably the same sort of tight light gauge material used in ferroconcrete hulls. People build boat hulls out of the stuff. Concrete technology is a broad and sophisticated field. With the right reinforcement and mix design I see no reason why this technique shouldn’t work just fines

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