• 04.29.14

These 3-D Printed Houses From China Appear In Just A Few Hours

They won’t win any beauty contest, but a Chinese company has figured out how to print practical homes from waste materials–all for half the cost of conventional construction.

These days, 3-D printing plastic gizmos is old news. The coolest things in printables are weightier: organs, bones, and houses. There doesn’t seem to be anything we can’t manufacture by slowly squirting a few layers on top of one another.


The latest house-building project comes from a Shanghai company called Winsun. It recently showed how a 22-foot-long printer costing about $5,000 could produce whole walls in minutes using a combination of cement and glass fiber as material. It claims the completed structures are about half the cost of conventional construction, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Most impressively, some of the material is recycled from old buildings, tailings, and industrial waste. Winsun plans to build up to 100 facilities across China to process the waste and make it ready for the houses.

The result isn’t going to win any architectural awards, and isn’t as elegant as designs put forward by engineers like University of Southern California professor Behrokh Khoshnevis, who has popularized the 3-D printed home idea, or even these strange Dutch inventions. But they do put a roof over people’s heads. That’s what counts first.

About the author

Ben Schiller is a New York staff writer for Fast Company. Previously, he edited a European management magazine and was a reporter in San Francisco, Prague, and Brussels.