Chinese 3D printing specialist WinSun has completed what it says is the world’s largest printed structure: a 432m-long revetment wall for a river in the town of Suzhou in the northern outskirts of Shanghai.
The wall, about 1.5m high, creates a flood defence along the waterway, which connects the Beijing-Hangzhou Grand Canal with Shanghai’s Huangpu River.
The company, which is also known as Yingchuang Building, says it assembled the structure from printed modules, which 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.
A video of the scheme can be seen here:
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.
According to WinSun, the project has been judged a success, and will be used to create revetment walls for other waterways, such as the Changhu Shen Line to the east of Shanghai.
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.
The printing technique is cheaper and more sustainable than conventional techniques (WinSun)
It came to prominence in 2014, when it succeeded in printing 10 houses in a day for less than $5,000 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.
Last month, it announced that it had created "scenic public toilets" as a contribution to China’s "toilet revolution", a multi-billion dollar campaign launched in 2015 to improve sanitation in China, particularly in tourist attractions.
Top image: The wall comes with built in planters (WinSun)