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China Build Technology

Chinese Company '3D-Prints' 10 Buildings In One Day 118

Lucas123 writes: A company in China has used additive manufacturing to print 10 single-room buildings out of recycled construction materials in under a day as offices for a Shanghai industrial park. The cost: about $5,000 each. The company, Suzhou-based Yingchuang New Materials, used four massive 3D printers supplied by the WinSun Decoration Design Engineering Co. Each printer is 20 feet tall, 33 feet wide and 132 feet long. Like their desktop counterparts, the construction-grade 3D printers use fused deposition modeling (FDM), where instead of thermoplastics layer after layer of cement is deposited atop one another. The cement contains hardeners that make each layer firm enough for the next. Yingchuang's technique builds structures off site in a factory one wall at a time. The structures are then assembled onsite. The technique is unlike U.S.-based Contour Crafting, a company whose 3D printing technology to form the entire outer structure of buildings at once, The Yingchuang factory and research center, a 33,000 square foot building, was also constructed using the 3D printing manufacturing technique. It only took one month to construct.
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Chinese Company '3D-Prints' 10 Buildings In One Day

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  • by mythosaz ( 572040 ) on Wednesday July 02, 2014 @05:14PM (#47372113)

    In the photos, it looks like they're hanging sheets of pre-printed concrete.

    I'm not sure this is anything novel, other than how they "printed" the Lego pieces and then drove them to the site.

  • by TWX ( 665546 ) on Wednesday July 02, 2014 @06:09PM (#47372449)
    I still don't get how it's supposed to be more efficient than setting up prefabricated moulds, hanging the conduits and placing the rebar, then pouring concrete from trucks... Yes, the moulds have to be taken off after waiting for the walls to cure enough to support themselves, but typically mass-construction of even identical buildings will see staggered stages including rough ground prep, survey for foundation positioning and marking that, installing the in-ground utilities/services/piping, pouring the foundation and slab, finishing off the stub-ups through the slab, building the load-bearing walls, building the roof, roughing-in the interior wall studs, putting in electrical/plumbing/etc, then finishing the interior walls and exterior of the building.

    That process can be staggered across several buildings so that the time to build ten buildings in-tandem isn't a lot worse than if two buildings were built, each start-to-finish before the next. I don't see how using a 3d printer really helps. 3d printers are great for prototyping and small-batch work, but it's almost always more cost effective to build special-purpose to make things in volume if the volume is enough to pay for the machines. 3d printing would work great at home or in a boutique shop, but I don't see it being a major factory process for finished goods.
  • by Fubari ( 196373 ) on Wednesday July 02, 2014 @07:21PM (#47372809)
    Well... the tfa had a video (t=20sec) [] showing a latice-work inside the wall's exterior surfaces. I suspect that lattice would:
    1) offer strength-to-weight savings (vs. solid slab cement walls)
    2) use less material for a given surface area (yeah, this follows #1),
    and 3) allow some extra insulation if warranted by the destination environment.

    Also it would probably allow different configurations depending on how tall one wanted to stack (thicker lower-flow pieces; thinner upper-floor pieces). And the other point about embedding services cabling & plumbing stands; I could see them using standard interconnects to splice things together as they get assembled. *shrug* Maybe all that is common place today with prefab walls; don't know ianapfba (pre-fab building architect).

    My first thought was "Big deal, another kind of prefab building" but the design + deposit is pretty interesting. This gets into some of the same things for machining I've read about where casting and/or subtractive (cnc milling) runs into limitations; additive manufacturing can create nested structure that were just not possible before. *shrug* It is cool to see people doing neat things with cement++.

    And maybe - at some point - it would be cost effective for larger & taller structures to print segments on-site (and possibly at elevation for multi-story units). I don't know that they need to print in-situ; having useful-sized freshly printed & cured components (think just-in-time lego-blocks for the construction crew) could still be useful.

    (One downside: I wonder about the "quick-set" additives and how nice (or not-so-nice) it would be to breath anything that off-gassed after it was all put together.)

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