Shanghai-based WinSun Decoration Design Engineering company made waves in April after saying it successfully constructed 10 full-sized, single-story houses in an impressively fast 24-hour period. But today Joe Kempton, an analyst with Canalys, an international technology sector advisory group, says that the company’s claims may not match the current capabilities of 3-D printing technology.
“We’re very skeptical about the claims of the WinSun printers,” Kempton said via email. “[…] there are so many extra parts needed to building a house - plumbing, electrics, etc., which are impossible for any type of 3-D printer, no matter how large, to currently achieve.”
According to Xinhua News Agency, the firm uses four large 3-D printers to make the small houses using a mixture of cement and other construction waste materials. The printers dramatically reduce construction costs by being able to repurpose old construction materials and reducing labor costs, printing each house for under $5,000.
WinSun holds 77 national patents for its construction materials. But while the company hopes to pioneer 3-D printing construction, China’s volatile real estate market may put an end to those dreams -- the risk of a real estate bubble in China has been written about extensively.
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WinSun’s chief executive Ma Yihe says he hopes to one day build a skyscraper using 3-D printing technology. But China’s push to build will likely have tapered off by the time technology can catch up to what's needed to build really viable printed houses. “In all honesty it is more likely to be 100 years before we get anything close to automated construction on the scale and complexity that we currently require,” Kempton said.