How long does it take to build a house? Obviously it depends on the size of the house and other factors, but somewhere around six or seven months is a good estimate. Chinese construction company HuaShang Tengda thinks that’s pretty funny, and have essentially laughed in the face of traditional construction by 3D printing a 400-square-meter, two-story house in a mere month and a half.
Beijing-based HuaShang Tengda is a major competitor of fellow Chinese construction company WinSun, which we’ve followed in the past since they surprised us with their 3D printed homes, including a six-story apartment building and a mansion. Not long after that, WinSun’s reputation was tarnished by quite of bit of controversy when Dr. Berokh Khoshnevis, creator of the revolutionary Contour Crafting technique of 3D printing buildings, stated that the Shanghai company had blatantly stolen his patented technology and were passing it off as their own. Moreover, Dr. Khoshnevis said, WinSun’s claim that they were 3D printing entire homes was untrue; in fact, they were 3D printing small sections of walls and then cobbling them together on-site using other construction methods.
HuaShang Tengda appears to be something different altogether. Their two-story villa was printed entirely on-site in a unique process that looks quite different from other 3D printed construction techniques we’ve seen. The team first erects the frame of the house, complete with rebar support and plumbing pipes, and then prints over it with their gigantic 3D printer, which only recently completed testing after several years of development. The printer, as seen in the video below, has a sort of forked extruder that simultaneously lays concrete on both sides of the structural material, swallowing it up and encasing it securely within the walls.
The printing material itself is ordinary Class C30 concrete, an extremely tough, durable yet inexpensive material, and HuaShang Tengda states that any cement material can be used with the process, so that other construction firms can take advantage of what is locally available. Twenty tons of the concrete were used to print the 250cm-thick walls of the villa, and seismic testing showed that the structure should be capable of withstanding an earthquake as strong as 8 on the Richter scale – that’s a strength that has flattened cities.
The technology, according to HuaShang Tengda, was developed entirely in-house and is controlled by custom-designed software that consists of four “systems”: an electronic ingredient formulating system, a concrete mixing system, a transmission system and a 3D printing system. The versatile printer, the company says, can be used to print buildings of any size and shape, including high-rise apartment buildings as well as structures with unconventional shapes that wouldn’t be feasible with other construction methods.
“(This technology) will have immeasurable social benefits,” HuaShang Tengda states. “Particularly the use of the new rural construction can now improve farmers’ living conditions. Because of its speed, low cost, simple and environmentally friendly raw materials, (it can) generally improve the quality of people’s lives. If to be used in developing countries, international competitive bidding in a great competitive advantage, the use of mechanical devices to reduce administrative costs and operating costs.”
I hesitate to use too many superlatives when talking about a new process, machine or material; we’ve heard a lot of 3D printing-related inventions described as being the next thing to turn a particular industry on its head, and that’s not always the case. WinSun’s claims turned out to be too good to be true, but HuaShang’s technology really does look like the real thing. Beyond the speed and low cost of the process, the fact that it can allegedly withstand all but the very strongest of earthquakes could save millions of lives – an idea that should be very appealing indeed to earthquake-prone China and many other regions. Watch the process for yourself below, and discuss further over in the Two-Story 3D Printed Villa forum at 3DPB.com.[Images: HuaShang Tengda]