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Chinese firm prints ten houses in a day

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When Chinese construction firm WinSun ‘printed’ 10 houses in Shanghai in less than a day, seasoned observers claimed that 3D printing in architecture had finally come of age

3D printing technology creates solid objects from digital models by laying down successive layers of material to mimic onscreen forms.

It has been around since the 1980s when US engineer Chuck Hall first demonstrated the technology with his company 3D Systems. But nothing on the scale of the 10 Shanghai houses had been attempted before.

WinSun Decoration Design Engineering used a huge 3D printer – 32m long, 10m wide, nearly 7m high – to print each of the 200m2 homes in Shanghai’s Qingpu district using a secret ‘ink’ mixture.

WinSun chief executive Ma Yihe says his technology combines high-grade cement with recycled mine tailings, byproducts of ore extraction. Each house cost less than £3,000 to make.

WinSun’s real breakthrough isn’t scale but speed. When 3D printing website 3Ders.org first published the news in English, it came a fortnight after Dutch architect DUS announced it had started to print a house in Amsterdam. That project will take three years to print.

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