Earlier this week, I took a look at 3D Print Canal House, a hugely impressive public exhibition in Amsterdam that showcases the efficient and low-waste home-building potential of an elephantine 3D printer dubbed the KamerMaker (RoomMaker). And in showcasing this technology, project lead DUS Architects and collaborators plan to take their sweet time (an estimated three years) printing, block by LEGO-esque block, a 13-room Dutch canal house complete with traditional ornamentation and a keen eye toward detail — even the building's furniture will be printer-generated.

It’s a noble — albeit expensive — approach and one that leaves ample room for experimenting, innovating, and perfecting the available technology at hand. There’s no rush.

However, with another 3D-printed home building project taking place thousands of miles away from Amsterdam in Shanghai, there is, to be predicted, a tangible sense of urgency involved — a drive to be the most economical, the most efficient, and, most importantly, the speediest.

Chinese construction materials firm Winsun New Materials recently completed work on 10 small and simple concrete dwellings using a 22-foot-tall custom-built 3D printer that cost $3.2 million and took 12 years to develop. Total print time for the actual homes? An astonishing 24 hours.

Costing under $5,000 a pop and measuring 200 square meters, Winsun’s 3D-printed homes, unlike the Amsterdam project which uses a bio-plastic “hotmelt” to generate intricately layered interlocking building blocks, are literally pumped/squirted out (Gizmag describes the massive printer’s head as resembling a “baker’s piping gun”) using a cement/glass fiber mix. For additional eco-cred, Winsun plans to use scrap materials taken from construction and mining sites as the "ink" as the project moves forward according to the Wall Street Journal.

The homes, which can quickly be assembled on-site and outfitted with plumbing, windows, electrical wiring, and roofs once the concrete aggregate building blocks have been printed in a factory, are geared toward housing-strapped developing nations where traditional brick-and-mortar construction is simply too expensive and too time-consuming. The first 10 Winsum 3D printed homes are currently installed at a Shanghai business park and are being used as offices.

Of course, some may not consider the Winsun homes to be technically 3D printed considering that they're assembled, piece by piece, after the fact using recycled concrete bricks (Amsterdam's 3D Print Canal House is much closer to the real deal). Still, this is an amazing bit of green-minded, solution-oriented innovation. Take a glimpse at the technology on full-display in the below video ...

Via [WSJ], [Gizmag]

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Matt Hickman ( @mattyhick ) writes about design, architecture and the intersection between the natural world and the built environment.

In China, tiny 'printed' homes produced quickly and on the cheap
With housing relief in mind, a Chinese firm generates 10 modest homes in a single day using a massive 3D printer and a cement mix as 'ink.'