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2017
Asia Needs more Dialogue
Solutions to urban pollution may prove complex
Spread of ESGs could herald new global movement
Investing in quality education is imperative if India wants to reap demographic dividends
China needs to lead in new multi-stakeholder world
China’s B&R initiative leading a resurgence of Asia
Education is key - but long-term: Can we survive?
New wave of robots will be beneficial to all
China needs to continue with its ‘heavy lifting’
Time is right for Chinese firms to invest in Europe
Robots to the rescue for China?
Asian Multinationals are Going Global, But to Where?
China ratchets forward with energy efforts
China’s calm necessary for globalization push
Bridging managerial gaps involves trust-building
China well-placed to power its future through green technology advances
China's new 'springtime' is here
2016
China’s moves show it’s banking on the future
Mindset for action at the G20 summit will be determined by Chinese presidency
Chinese head-hunting intensifies for rare managers that can steer overseas firms
US talk of isolation jars with growing links in Europe and Asia
Electoral rhetoric on global trade not in sync with reality
Is it time to be prudent and consider austerity policies again?
What will we do if we have no oil?
Unlock talent by finding the right fit for a person
The benefits are real and tangible
Trade along China’s ‘One Belt, One Road’ won’t succeed without the currency of trust
Reasons for optimism about the long term
2015
Can big oil go green and win?
Poorer Nations Could Sway Climate Talks
Combating Idleness and Deprivation
How China can be a model of food sustainability for the developing world
Kyoto II – Is it a Done Deal?
A meeting of the two largest economic powers
Why China will experience a 'soft' landing
Beware of superstitions
The Elephant and Dragon move ahead
G-7 target on fossil fuels raises many questions
Why Battle for Net Neutrality in the US Matters Globally
China’s resurgence – the ‘normal new’
Wanted: A managerial culture that embraces cultural differences
China's early education plan a smart investment in the future
The New Normal for China and India
2014
China's infrastructure push offers a sure track to better growth
US-China climate pact a good start, but not quite enough
Rethink the human’s place in the ‘digital revolution’
China springs a carbon surprise
Infrastructure - the invisible hand in full view
Dialogue vital for survival of Iraqi nation
China must nurture a new generation of beautiful minds
Great expectations in China and India
GM Cereals – The Pros and Corns
Time to be Honest about Our Energy Prospects
Weathering the Storm of Climate Change
Making a Big Decision? Beware of Your Biases
West Deserves Better Logistics Infrastructure
Digital Currencies do Represent the Future
From 'Printed' Houses to Wooden Skyscrapers
It’s time to bail out our schools, not our firms
Solution to India’s housing shortage – print new ones!
And the most promising green technologies of 2014 are ...
Transport infrastructure key to domestic, export growth
Oil stopgaps: Not worth risking
2013
Why the US should grant Edward Snowden amnesty
May we be more optimistic!
China headed for another massive social experiment?
A dialogue that worked
Yes, politicians deserve vacations - because we benefit
NPOs, NGOs invaluable as creators of dialogue
Look closer and ask: Is America reinventing itself?
Boston bombings case underlines need for dialogue
Millennium Development Goals or own goals?
As usual it's about balance - and timing - of course
Chinese strategists make right moves for growth
2012
Preparing for tomorrow
Austerity or growth?
Japan in danger of becoming 'just a place to fly over'
Beware of the business cycle?
An inconvenient truth
Limited offer sale: Buy a country
Where did our money go?
Leading from behind - a year of elections is almost over
Driving towards a green future
Waiting for springtime
Preserve or Perish
Startlingly similar Asia policy for Obama, Romney
Globalisation remains an irresistible trend
Google has the edge in smartphone war
U.S. Braces for China's Rise
Mankind’s General Scourge
The summer holidays are over and nothing has changed!
Put the hidden trillions to work
Making sense of India’s woes and wonders
Storm in a teacup!
Let’s give bad bankers a venue to admit their sins
News is about depth, not puff or velocity
Booming India, but too few toilets
Delayed Court decisions doesn't mean one may continue to play 'Great Game'
We need media to reflect on data and offer public a balanced view
Big polluters can lead in forging common purpose
The weighty issue of choosing a leader
EU-India Relations - Facing similar challenges
Educating with a goal
The Judicial Malaise
We are growing out, but not growing up
EU´s retrenchment enigma
Urbulence in the Eurozone and the effect on SMEs
Skolkovo May Help Russia to Diversify
Make things more effective
Tapping into the Commonwealth connection
Innovative models for public finance
Facebook revolution but Indian style
The feel-good factor
Asian investors - a private equity opportunity
India needs to be taller and stronger
China´s low sales volume...
Nations playing leapfrog
Shafts of sunlight
What webs we weave
As performers go to Davos, the circus steals the show
Can we control the politicians?
 
2011
Europe’s reminiscence
China firms should go for win-win in overseas ventures
Of procrastination...
Making sense of profiteering
Truth about financial mess must be laid bare
Small is also beautiful
China can help Europe with debt crisis
Excising the cancer of global corruption
Education, a critical asset
Arab uprisings set in motion forces of creative destruction
A new era of change
We must ensure better education for all
Beijing wary of bankrolling a lost cause
Asean's re-emergence as a local and global leader
Why India's Role in the Global Economy is Still Work in Progress
Its the leadership, stupid!
Reverse globalisation: The new buzzword
Solution to India’s housing shortage – print new ones!
By Frank-Jürgen Richter
Business Times, February 18, 2014
 

I have a solution to India’s housing shortage – print new ones! The reader might think I am writing of a new accounting trick – a variant of Quantitative Easing where the government prints money. How can they print a house? Well, I am talking of the upsurge in the popularity and scope of 3-D printing. This technique has been around in the laboratory since the 1980s. But it has only been an increasingly viable process from the 2000s when new materials, ink jets and curing ovens have become available.

Object printing is, in fact, a radically new idea given that the manufacturing processes that mankind has used for eons is subtractive – like finding a log, striping off wood to make a hull shape on the outside, and then hollowing out the inside to make a canoe. This applies across most traditional manufacturing modes, which rely on the removal of material by methods such as cutting or drilling (subtractive processes) as well as hammering to size.

The printing process is additive, with new layers of materials being squirted onto old layers to build up a shape. It is a very versatile method allowing hollow sections to be programmed using a weak material that is later dissolved or melted away. The printed shapes do not require much after-finishing: certainly not compared to the casting of metal, then whipping it into shape with massive hammers, and afterwards cutting and drilling.

Of course, both subtractive and additive processes lead to assembly in a traditional way. Engineers find printing is a super way to reduce stockholdings of spares: when called for, simply print a new one! Now that is a way of printing money. The cost of holding stocks – many of which are obsolescent and can all become obsolete – is reduced, allowing the capital to be put to better uses.

In India, housing shortages were computed in 2007: there was a shortfall of some 20 million homes. A study in 2012 added together the number of homeless people, the number of homes that are older than 80 years, and the number of homes that are 40 to 80 years old and in poor condition. That totalled 18.8 million.

India has a great need to mobilise rebuilding quickly as its homelessness reduction over five years is perceived as too slow, and its labour force is on the move, shifting to the cities. 3D printing has rapidly become well-established across many manufacturing sectors, from prosthetics (even as detailed as copying bone structures), through all high-tech industries to aerospace with its requirements for strength and low weight in ever-larger single structures (when the traditional subtractive methods are found to be very, very costly).

This increase of scale stimulated researchers at the University of Southern California to consider spraying thin films of concrete to build walls. Essentially they are doing little more than replacing old traditional manual methods with robot-guided sprays and trowels. The thin films dry quickly, don’t have hidden structure-weakening cavities and the surface finish is good.

And, just like the smaller scale 3D printing, the computer-controlled robotics can spray complex shapes, even with “holes” for doors, windows and pipework. All in all, this process is very fast and yields a superior product.

I think there is very good potential to marry the research in California with venture capital in India to satisfy India’s housing needs. As commercial experience is gained, this housing will meet the high sustainability regulations imposed upon modern buildings which must emit a minuscule thermal image. By applying insulating materials at the same time as the concrete, buildings can be made for both cold and hot climes guaranteeing their heating demands are minimized – the aim is to create a mass market of negative carbon homes.

Of course such rapid building does not remove the cities’ responsibility to create a built environment fit for modern living – with good sanitation, roads, shops, medical and entertainment centres as well as carrying good mass-transport links to work and more distant places. Planners and do-ers are both needed in abundance.

But, above all, India needs a bold vision if it is to nurture its citizens. I think 3D printing of houses looks to be a really good idea: an idea that might get lost in the fervour of the forthcoming elections. I hope not – the people deserve the best.

 

The writer is founder and chairman of Horasis, a global visions community.


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