When your blogger was growing up, the Sony Walkman cassette player seemed like space age, cutting-edge technology – and here I am, not that many years latter, writing a blog on a computer, which will be sent invisibly over the airwaves to the recipient … if I want to see it on paper, this can be done wirelessly too via Bluetooth on a device that also acts as a fax machine, copier, scanner and – oh yeah – a printer ….
But while the average – undeniably versatile – printer can’t yet make me a cup of tea, industry has been using them for a while to produce prototypes in a form of plastic. And now a company in China claims to have built 10 detached houses within 24 hours using four giant 3D printers: consuming waste material, which is pumped out into layers to create the various construction components.
So, could this modern technology help us meet our requirement to build the 250,000 homes a year up to 2031 to combat the UK’s chronic housing shortage? It looks as though, at less than £3,000 each to ‘build’ each bungalow, these 3D printers could actually create much-needed affordable homes.
What will this type of construction mean to us at Plastic Surgeon in the future, if it takes off? Well, we could obviously repair the materials that these machines produce, as they will, I guess, be moved to sites – or printed off in-situ – where either way, us clumsy human beings can still do damage to them.
We might even be asked to repair scratches and dents on the 3D behemoths themselves, as any irregularity will be mirrored in the cast structure: they measure a staggering 105ft long, by 33ft wide and 22ft tall – and were invented by Chinese firm Win Sun, which set them up to pipe the mixture of cement and construction waste to build up the walls layer-by-layer during the ultra-rapid construction process.
Apparently, though, quality checks are currently conducted by examining each piece of the structure as it is printed out, but there might have to be more stringent checks if people are to live in the buildings in the future – which, of course, we could do ….
And while I might trust a 3D printer to produce a reasonable cup or mug, I think I’ll stick to brewing my own tea – for now.