How Fast Can You Print Out a Building?

A company in China says it can print out 10 buildings a day

printed house
James Leynse/Corbis

A company in China called WinSun is using printers to create buildings, really, really fast. The company says ten of its units can be printed in one day. Granted, these are very large printers, measuring nearly 33 feet by 22 feet (10 meters x 6.6 meters), and the buildings are, essentially, small concrete boxes. But, still, that's fast. Using a mixture of construction waste and concrete for printing material, the single-story, one-room houses can be printed for less than $5,000.  

This Chinese company may be printing buildings faster than anyone else, but they're not the first to do it. In 2012, Enrico Dini began experimenting with printing large-scale buildings out of sand. And currently in Amsterdam, a giant printer called KamerMaker, (literally, ‘room builder’) is on view to the public, slowly but surely printing out an entire house.


The architects see multiple benefits to 3D-printing a house, aside from the possibilities of near-limitless customization. "For the first time in history, over half of the world's population is living in cities," Vermeulen said. "We need a rapid building technique to keep up the pace with the growth of the megacities. And we think 3D printing can be that technique."

The printer in Amsterdam is getting a lot of attention, with President Obama visiting the site last month. But this project is expected to take three years to finish. Another printer, built by a USC professor, can build a house in 20 hours. At 2,500 square feet, these are a little bit bigger than the 2,150 square foot buildings the WinSun is making—and the printer can add plumbing, electrical wiring and tile flooring. Fancy. 

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