A building company in China has pioneered the use of 3D printers to construct multiple buildings using recycled materials.

China’s Yingchuang New Materials has become the first construction company in the world to use 3D printers to build multiple buildings within the space of just a single day.

Yingchuang, which is headquartered in the Jiangsu-province city of Suhou, employed four giant 3D printers to create 10 one-room office buildings in just 24 hours, at a cost of only $5,000 per structure.

The building materials were first printed and allowed to harden at the company’s own premises before being delivered to a Shanghai industrial park and assembled into offices on site.

The construction-grade printers, which were supplied from WinSun Decoration Design Engineering, are of immense size in order to enable them to produce building materials of sufficient dimensions. Each of the devices measures over six metres in height, more than 10 metres in width, and around 40 metres in length.

Aside from their prodigious size, however, the printers differ little from their smaller counterparts, making use of fused deposition modelling (FDM) technology to create 3D parts by depositing layers of material one at a time.

A computer-controlled mechanical extruder arms lays down each layer of material in accordance with a CAD design. This layer is then treated with a hardening solution prior to the addition of the subsequent layer.

While Yingchuang is not the first organisation in the world to use 3D printing technology for the construction of large-scale structures, it is the first to use the method to assemble multiple buildings within a single day.

Yingchuang has also used the technology to build its factory and research centre – a facility covering an area of over 3,000 square metres, which according to company founder and president Ma Yihe took only a single month to complete.

In addition to its rapid pace of execution, Yingchuang’s application of additive printing to building construction is distinguished by its use of recycled construction materials, including concrete, glass fibre and sand, making the entire process far more more sustainable and economical.

The Suzhou-based company has been exploring the use of 3D printing in the construction sector for over  decade and believes the technology could soon be used to build recycled skyscrapers from the pulverised remains of other demolished structures.

Yihe now hopes to establish 100 recycling factories throughout China which make use of building debris as an inexpensive construction material for the company’s 3D printers.