3D Printing Breakthrough in China

A company in Beijing has built a 3D printed house strong enough to withstand a major earthquake.

SHARE

A company in China has claimed to have built the first earthquake-proof home from materials manufactured entirely from a 3D printer.

The technology typically uses a digital process to produce an object as a single finished product by creating ‘layers’ of material.

The major innovative breakthrough here is that Beijing-based construction firm HuaShang Tengda has been able to print on-site using Class C30 concrete – a standard building material – in one non-stop session lasting 45 days.

This is remarkable since the convention of 3D printing used in construction usually involves the constituent elements of the building being produced one at a time then pieced together.

In this project, situated in the Tongzhou District of Beijing, the makers began by creating the basic form of the building – its frame, all the plumbing, and of course the reinforced steel rods used in any concrete pour – known as rebars.

Then the 3D printer, which uses two print heads, ‘layered’ the concrete over the framework metre by metre.

Approximately 20 tonnes of concrete was used to finish the two story ‘villa’ which boasts walls that are 250 cm thick, a floor space of 400 metres, and 2.7 metre high ceilings.

HuaShang Tengda claims that these specs and others make the house able to withstand an earthquake of 8.0 on the Richter scale.

Its major cosmetic features include two forward turret-like ‘towers’ each capped by pointed circular cone domes and a rough texture to the grey finish of the exterior.

The unique technology used by HuaShang Tengda was produced by their own technicians, including the custom-built software.

The company announced to media that the process they used for the Tongzhou villa could just as easily be scaled to produce a high rise and even be apt for adventurous architecture where a conventional approach to construction is not feasible.

3D ‘printed’ homes are gaining considerable traction in the construction and design space China and Europe observers say.

Amongst the advantages for stakeholders is not only the time saved in the building process but the minimal contribution traditional trades people have in the process, saving on labour costs.