3D Printing: Building Mega Structures in Asia

Mar 27, 2019 | Asia, Biz, Biz.Asia, Biz.China

Beijing Galaxy Soho | Winsun

3D printing has gone from a casual curiosity to big business in less than twenty years

3D printing has been around for more than a decade now, but it is only this year that it has become a tour de force in different industries. What began as an experimental technology for medical applications is now a massive industry in itself, with manufacturers creating entire structures – all with the help of printing technology.

Gargantuan applications

Initially, 3D printing became popular because it allowed manufacturers to create little things like commercial figurines, specialized cellphone cases, and even artificial legs with custom designs.

What differentiates 3D printing from traditional casting with plastic and metal is that it’s highly efficient, highly precise and ultimately, cost effective, because just one system can take over the functions of multiple machines that are traditionally used for large-scale manufacturing.

It has been estimated that structures like houses and entire bridges can be manufactured from 3D printing technology entirely in the near future. 

Disruptive but cool tech

3D printing in Asia is considered a disruptive technology, because it upends everything that has been done in construction for the past eighty years. Asian construction has been largely dependent on concrete and water – and mostly manual methods of designing, aligning and fabrication.

WinSun Decoration Design Engineering Co. in China now holds two special records in additive construction, or the use of 3D printing technology for construction.

The first record is being able to 3D-print ten house in less than 24 hours. The second one is 3D-printing a five-story building, an apartment block and an amazing second structure, a 1,100-square meter mansion. The mansion is fully customized and decorated inside and outside.

Dual robot action

Robotics scientists from the Nanyang Technological University in Singapore have also created their own version of additive construction technology where two robots worked in unison to create 3D designs.

Instead of plastic or resin, these robots used concrete directly, and their output was first published by Automation in Construction.

According to the NTU team, what they envisioned is a highly portable robotics system that can be easily transported to different construction sites. Once installed, they can proceed to printing the required designs, and transported once again to where the robots are needed.

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