Wednesday, 4 February 2015

World’s tallest 3D printed building on display in China

A Chinese engineering and design firm, WinSun Decoration Design Engineering, has unveiled the world’s tallest 3D-printed building – a five-storey residential apartment block made from recycled construction materials. The Shanghai-based company have their own custom built 3D printer, costing them US$2.3
million and taking nearly 12 years to manufacture.


The 3D printer measures 6.6 metres tall, 10 metres wide and about 150 metres long. Think of it as a printer where the ‘ink’ is a mixture of fibreglass, steel, cement, hardening agents and recycled construction materials. It prints layer on top of layer in order to create a 3D structure. In a prefabricated home fashion, various sections are produce before being transported and assembled on site.

According to the company’s website, their 3D-printed walls are about 50 percent lighter than concrete walls, but have “much higher strength and toughness”. It also says they won’t crack, that they have strong water-proofing, as well as improved air permeability and heat retention compared to walls made from “common construction materials”.

As well as achieving the world’s tallest 3d printed building, they also showcased a 1,100-square-metre 3D-printed mansion, which cost an estimated US$160,000. Now, that’s pretty cheap for a mansion, huh?


Chief engineer of China Construction No.8 Engineering Bureau, Ma Rongquan said: “These two houses are in full compliance with the relevant national standards. It is safe, reliable, and features a good integration of architecture and decoration. But as there is no specific national standard for 3D printing architecture, we need to revise and improve such a standard for the future.”

WinSun have a pretty decorated history in 3D printing property. Back in April 2014 they printed 10 single-story homes in less than 24 hours at a cost of less than $5000 per building. The company holds over 100 patents already and have demonstrated the use of industrial waste from demolished buildings as an ‘ink’ for their printers.

“Industrial waste from demolished buildings is damaging our environment, but with 3D printing, we are able to recycle construction waste and turn it into new building materials,” said the company’s CEO Ma Yihe. “This would create a much safer environment for construction workers and greatly reduce construction costs.”

Over the next three years they will be setting up factories in more than 20 countries, including Qatar, Morocco, Tunisia and the US, and will also be unveiling a sand-based 3D printer. Maybe your next home will be a 3D printed one. 

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