It might seem strange that 3D printing was used on space ships before being applied to solve the ever-growing housing crisis, but it’s true. Stepping up to the challenge, WinSun, a company based in China, created an apartment complex that is — you guessed it — a complete 3D-printed building. Towering five stories high and equipped with decorative accents, WinSun’s accomplishment hints at the future of green real estate.
Though not the first building created from a 3D printer, WinSun’s recent creation was the first of its kind to be specifically designed as an apartment complex. In August 2014, 3D printing enthusiasts reported rumors of an entire 3D-printed estate planned for New York, but WinSun’s development goes beyond luxury to apply 3D printing to a practical need — affordable, comfortable, and visually appealing apartment complexes.
The complex isn’t lacking features, either. Unlike the 3D-printed castle created by a native Minnesotan, as discussed last year by the Inquisitr, the WinSun 3D-printed building is complete with stairs, interior design elements, and reinforced walls. This latest achievement is gaining much attention from the burgeoning green real estate community, as the company reports numerous eco-friendly benefits of 3D-printed housing.
After making headlines for the production of 10 smaller houses in less than a day, WinSun is leading progress with quick, affordable, and environmentally friendly apartment living. Completely customizable, designs are first drawn (and sometimes printed in a smaller scale, based on complexity) before being printed.
WinSun’s apartment complex was constructed by printing the individual pieces. Insulation, steel reinforcements, and other materials are then added before on-site assembly. In this case, the final dimensions of the 3D-printed building were 20x33x132, but the printer’s inventor, Ma Yihe, has bigger buildings in his vision of the future.
In addition to Yihe’s skilled team of engineers, a proprietary ink blend created mostly from recycled materials is a critical part of the project’s success. From start to finish, creating a 3D-printed building is said to take less time, materials, and resources when compared to traditional construction, and comes with a much smaller price tag (just over $160,000 for the apartment complex).
Because of the material used and manner in which the complex is assembled, Yiha estimates a savings of 60 to 80 percent on materials, labor, and project completion time. The overall construction of a 3D-printed building is highly wind resistant and holds up well against foundational disruption, such as during earthquakes. Yihe hopes to witness skyscrapers built with printed materials, but, for now, his accomplishment signals the beginning of an innovative approach to housing.