A Chinese 3D printing specialist has built what it claims is the world’s larges printed structure: a 432m revetment wall for a river in the town of Suzhou in the northern outskirts of Shanghai.
WinSun constructed the 1.5m-high wall to create a flood defence along the waterway, which connects the Beijing–Hangzhou Grand Canal with Shanghai’s Huangpu River.
The company assembled the structure from printed modules, which it said allowed it to follow the river’s curves more easily and cheaply than would have been possible with conventional techniques.
The modules were printed using waste from construction and steel making, which were heated, ground up and mixed with printing “ink”. Each is crenelated with plant pots, turning the wall into a long shrubbery.
The project is part of a programme of works to rebuild Suzhou, a former mining town that is being transformed into a centre for high tech manufacturing and digital industry.
Shanghai-based WinSun began in 2003 as a maker of a type of glass-fibre gypsum board that it also invented. It began to develop 3D printing techniques in 2008 and now says it holds 225 patents.
It came to prominence in 2014, when it succeeded in printing 10 houses in a day for less than $5,000 (£3,805) each. In 2017 it entered into a three-year alliance with US engineer Aecom, and made headlines with a plan to print 1.5 million homes in Saudi Arabia.