Singapore aims to print public housing “like Lego”

Singapore is to test if public housing can be manufactured using 3D printing techniques, and the government-funded Singapore Centre for 3D Printing plans to start the process by printing concrete units to be assembled on site.

Eighty per cent of Singapore’s population live in government buildings, and as their demographic profile becomes older, they are increasingly reliant on foreign workers, who also need to be accommodated in government housing.

Professor Chua Chee Kai, executive director of the Singapore Centre for 3D Printing, said: "The idea is to print them maybe a unit at a time. So if you have a 10-storey building, you will probably do one storey at a time. These will be transported to the construction site where they will be stacked up like Lego.

"There is no assistance of 3D printers and no availability of printable concrete. We have to develop all this from scratch. Also the construction industry is typically very conservative; building tends to be among the last industries to try something new."

Structural components are the most likely to be printed, whereas more complex features will be made traditionally.

The Singapore Centre for 3D Printing is not just focused on housing; the firm has already printed organs for animals and is also testing if weapons can be produced using additive methods.

Image: Bishan in Singapore (Eustaquio Santimano/Wikimedia Commons)

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