An article in the Guardian examines Winsun’s recent 3D printed housing project and we’re wondering how feasible this may really be.
There have been numerous experiments into 3D printed buildings, most notably Behrokh Khoshnevis’ Contour Crafting concept, which involved erecting a kind of giant 3D printer on top of a building site and extruding concrete into building shapes. There’s also Enrico Dini’s D-Shape, which uses an onsite sand-based 3D printer to create shapes suitable for building.
However, it appears that Winsun has taken some of the concepts invented (and apparently patented) by Khoshnevis and incorporated them into Winsun’s process. The Winsun process does not involve an onsite 3D printer, but instead uses a factory concept, where pre-fab components are printed at a central location and then quickly shipped to the building site. Using this process they’ve been able to rapidly produce what are called “3D printed homes” but are actually “homes assembled from some 3D printed components”.
The Winsun printer uses essentially selected trash material for printing, such as recycled “rubble, fibreglass, steel, cement and binder” and prints using a hollow design involving a “corrugated” fill pattern. This pattern has apparently been patented by Khoshnevis.
Regardless of what you call it or whether it breaks intellectual property laws, it appears that the Winsun method does provide some advantage: according to the Guardian article, The effort required to build using their technique is about 10% of standard approaches. We’re a little suspicious of that advantage, but it is quite possible it is less expensive to build this way.
What we’re concerned about is the apparently lack 3D print technology leverage here. The Winsun homes appear to be conventional homes, not new designs enabled by the technology. This is simply doing the old thing a new way.
But if it is economical, expect to see more. In fact, Winsun has plans to open “20” 3D print central factories in various countries to expand the usage.
But will they open them in the US where they could expect a lawsuit?
Via The Guardian