Construction company WinSun may be based in China, but it may end up being best known for the work it does in the Middle East. WinSun was part of one of the biggest stories in 3D printed construction so far: the world’s first 3D printed office building, inaugurated in Dubai last year. A few months later, the company met with the Saudi Arabian government to discuss a collaboration involving the use of WinSun’s 3D printing technology in a massive effort to construct 1.5 million homes over the next five years.
It appears that WinSun won’t be abandoning its work in Dubai anytime soon, as the company recently agreed to 3D print 17 additional office buildings in the city. Meanwhile, things are also beginning to move forward in Saudi Arabia. A few days ago, WinSun signed an agreement with Riyadh-based Al Mobty Contracting Company worth $1.5 billion. Under the terms of the agreement, WinSun will lease 100 3D printers to Al Mobty, which will use them to build 1.5 million affordable homes – a total of 30 million square meters of 3D printed construction.
The numbers may sound absurd, but that’s the thing – with 3D printed construction technology, the idea of building 1.5 million new homes in a few years’ time isn’t absurd anymore. WinSun’s Dubai office building was built in a mere 17 days with one giant 3D printer. The completion of the structure was a turning point for 3D printing in construction, and marked the moment when the ludicrous idea of 3D printed buildings suddenly became – well, not so ludicrous to many people.
Saudi Arabia is in the midst of a serious housing crisis, with many citizens unable to afford homes, and 3D printing is a light at the end of a tunnel. The technology, compared to traditional construction methods, is much more cost-effective, uses less material, and requires less labor overall. It’s eco-friendly, and most importantly in this case, it’s fast. Saudi Arabia’s hot, arid climate causes frequent problems for traditional construction projects, so the more quickly the work is completed, the better – and WinSun has already shown that it can deliver on that front (though these claims are not without their controversy).
The lease agreement was signed in Beijing last week by Ma Yi He, chairman of WinSun’s board of directors, and officials from Al Mobty Contracting Company in the presences of Saudi King Salman, who visited Chinese President Xi Jinping from March 15 to 18. It was King Salman’s first visit to China, and it was a productive one, ending in an official solution to the lack of affordable homes in Saudi Arabia.
The key word is affordable – the buildings that will be 3D printed by WinSun and Al Mobty aren’t going to be dwellings for the elite; they’re going to house the country’s average citizens, many of whom are in urgent need of reasonably priced housing. If the project is succeeds, it could very well be a blueprint for other countries and cities facing similar issues – and while Saudi Arabia’s housing crisis may be an especially serious one, there are few locations that aren’t dealing with a lack of affordable housing to some degree or another. Discuss in the WinSun forum at 3DPB.com.[Source: Trade Arabia]
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