Whenever we hear about Chinese construction company WinSun, it’s pretty much a guarantee that the news isn’t going to be boring. Whether it’s a scandal involving alleged IP theft or a genuine breakthrough in 3D printed construction, if their name pops up in the news, it’s a pretty safe bet that it’s going to be big news. Today is no exception, as WinSun has apparently been talking to the Saudi Arabian government about implementing the largest-scale 3D printed construction project in history.
Last week, a delegation of representatives from WinSun, led by chairman Ma Yihe and vice president Liu Wenmin, traveled to the Saudi Arabian capital city of Riyadh, where they met with officials from the Saudi Ministry of Housing. In 2011, the Ministry commenced an ambitious plan to build up to 500,000 housing units by 2017, in response to a growing housing crisis caused by urbanization and a housing market that disproportionately favors the wealthy. Due to bureaucratic snarls and other issues, however, that plan has failed to deliver, and ensuing initiatives have gotten bogged down as well.
According to Bloomberg, the country is currently facing a shortage of 1.5 million homes over the next five years, a shortage that will mostly impact the middle class. The government, which changed leadership in 2015, is aggressively pursuing multiple solutions to the problem, one of which includes courting international developers and builders. Among those international developers is WinSun, whose 3D printed construction techniques have drawn the attention and interest of the Ministry of Housing.
While not a great deal of information has been released yet, reports say that the Ministry of Housing along with the Saudi Arabian General Investment Authority have invited WinSun and their 3D printing technology to aid in the production of 1.5 million housing units over the next five years – a massive project that, if realized, would fully solve the housing shortage. The construction of 1.5 million homes in five years had previously been described as unfeasible by Housing Minister Majed Al Hogail, but that was before 3D printing came into the equation.
Is it doable? Only time will tell. As stated above, WinSun has been involved in some revolutionary projects such as the world’s first 3D printed office building, inaugurated in Dubai a few months ago after a mere 17 days of construction. Last year, they revealed a six-story apartment building and a mansion that they stated were built in 30 percent of the time required in traditional construction, and with 60 percent less material. Some doubt has been cast on those claims by Dr. Behrokh Khoshnevis, inventor of the Contour Crafting technique that he alleges WinSun stole from him. According to Dr. Khoshnevis, the company has exaggerated their capabilities in terms of speed and cost reduction.
Even if that’s the case, however, WinSun has been responsible for a large number of 3D printed construction projects, and they do work fast, even if their earlier claim of printing 10 houses in one day was an exaggeration. Several other rising construction firms have also demonstrated that 3D printed homes can be built fast and built well, so the use of 3D printing to solve Saudi Arabia’s housing problem is an overall brilliant idea. The Ministry of Housing and General Investment Authority have invited WinSun to set up a 3D printing factory in Saudi Arabia; if plans begin moving forward, we should certainly be learning more soon. We’ll keep you up to date. Discuss this over in the 3D Printed Housing forum at 3DPB.com.[Source: Trade Arabia]