3-D printing technology is revolutionizing the way houses are built.
A stand-alone villa and a full-sized, six-story building that had been created by huge printers with "contour crafting", commonly known as 3-D printing technology, were recently shown at the Suzhou industrial park in Jiangsu province.
"3-D technology has integrated the traditional processes of building a house, which helps improve work efficiency, shorten the time scale and save costs," said Ma Yihe, who developed the printers used to build the houses.
Ma, who is also president of the Shanghai Winsun decoration and design company, said 3-D printing technology helped save 30 to 60 per cent on building materials and 50 to 80 per cent in labour.
He said the villa, which covers 1,100 square meters, will be sold for more than 80 million yuan (S$17.3 million), while its printing cost was just over 1 million yuan.
Earlier in 2014, the company printed out 10 one-story houses in the Shanghai Hi-Tech Industrial Park in less than a day with the giant printers.
The printers, measuring 32 meters long, 10 meters wide and 6.6 meters tall, created the houses by adding the materials layer by layer.
"All the printing materials are from construction waste, industrial waste or tailings," Ma said. "What we do is turn the waste to our advantage. Besides that, the new technology doesn't produce any more waste. The whole process has played a role in improving the environment."
Ma has been exploring 3-D printing technology for the construction industry for 12 years.
"We have done a lot of safety tests on these houses, and there is no need to worry about the safety issues," Ma said.
The company said it has established a joint venture with a US partner and plans to establish factories in countries such as Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Morocco, Tunisia and the United States within three years.
In China, the company has already established partnerships with a number of building companies and real estate developers.
"3-D printing technology is a revolution in the real estate industry," said Chen Sheng, president of China Real Estate Data Academy. "In the future, furniture and houses can be custom-made to suit people's own requirements."