Our colleagues at 3Ders.com had an interesting scoop earlier this week, stating that a company from China 3D printed as many as ten houses in only one day. Initially we really thought it was their April fool’s joke, but as a lot of media start to talk about it and the company – WinSun Decoration Design Engineering Co – even seems to have its own website, there is a high chance that this is actually real. Despite the fact we can’t verify this news officially, we have to admit that this 3D printing roomer of the week surely is news. So let’s say it like this: according to 3Ders.com, this company claims to have produced ten houses in Shanghai, using less more than one giant 3D printer.
The news came on the same day we visited the 3D Print Canal House in Amsterdam. The first thing that probably comes to mind is the question why the Dutch need three years to finish a 3D printed building, when the Chinese can do it in one day. Well, this is all due to the fact that WinSun seems to be using a different 3D printing method, which is somehow similar to contour crafting. It generally comes down to the fact that they seem to use concrete instead of plastics and it results in a massive acceleration of the work. This also means the buildings were printed in parts instead of entirely using layer-by-layer techniques. It still requires the work of construction workers to build the house, but the company states construction costs can be lowered by 50 percent.
Whether this news is true or not, it certainly says something about the current hype of 3D printed houses. The University of Southern California is now working with a method, called Contour Crafting, which uses concrete-like materials to 3D print houses as fast as possible. In the mean time, different parties such as Hewlett-Packard are working on techniques to speed up the work of 3D printers. A project such as the 3D Print Canal House already showed that 3D printing has become a hot subject in the field of construction and we might be on the verge of a 3D printed era.
However, construction workers might not be glad about these developments at all, as there are two sides to every coin. The first side it however very positive for the safety of the workers, as a lot of lives can be saved because of 3D printing. Every year as many as 400,000 construction workers become injured and 6,000 to 10,000 construction workers get killed in the U.S. alone. By replacing construction workers by 3D printers, there will be a lower chance of people getting hurt.
On the other side, there might be a lot of lay offs in the future. If a 3D printer can do the job, then what do you need a construction worker for? Contour Crafting’s Behrokh Khoshevis however thinks this is an old-fashioned view. He compares today’s situation with the early 1900s, when America’s population included a lot of farmers, who were afraid of agricultural technology. They feared it could put them out of work, which made sense in a way that today only 1,5 percent of all Americans are farmers. On the other hand, the other farmers have found different ways to make themselves useful in the field of agriculture or they’ve just found a different job.
And that’s whats it’s all about, thinks Khoshnevis. He claims that Contour Crafting will be creating new jobs and that it will provide older workers as well as women a chance to work in new areas of construction. “There will always be better economies resulted from the advancement and utilization of technologies that just make sense,” he says.
Update: we are not the only ones doubting about the truth behind the Shanghai project, as WikiFactory is currently researching the topic. We’re curious about the results, because you have to forgive us about the fact that the distance between Amsterdam and Shanghai is a little too long to search for those 3D printed houses ourselves:
Image credits: 3Ders.com.