Do you know that 3D printing has already revolutionized the world of construction? Have you already heard about construction 3D printing?
3D printing is applicable in almost everything, even in building houses and mansions. Yes, you read it right, the 3D printing technology has been used in construction for years.
In fact, several high-rise buildings and livable houses were constructed using the construction 3D printing technology.
I’m pretty sure you are already very excited to see the wonders of 3D printing in the construction sector. So, without further ado, here are the amazing 3D-printed buildings in the world!
1. WinSun’s 3D-Printed Apartment Block
Chinese Company WinSun Decoration Design Engineering Co. is among the first to test the limits of 3D printing in construction.
It has already built 210 3D-printed houses in under 24 hours, but it made history when it constructed the world’s tallest 3D-printed structure — the apartment block — in 2015.
The apartment building was made using a 20-feet tall, 33-feet wide, and 132-feet long 3D printer, according to ArchDaily. It uses a mixture of glass fiber, steel, cement, hardening agents and recycled construction waste for the material — which are flexible, self-insulating and resistant to strong earthquakes.
The individual building sections were then assembled like a modular construction project. The walls and other structures were fabricated offsite with a diagonal reinforced print pattern and put together to come up with this 3D printed building.
The company then placed beam columns, steel rebar within the walls and insulation while reserving space for pipe lines, windows and doors.
Using 3D printers enabled the company to save between 30 – 60 percent of the construction waste and decrease production time between 50 – 70 percent compared to the traditional construction time. It also reduced the labor by 80 percent which means that the house is more affordable, per 3Dprint.com.
At about the same time, WinSun built a 1,100 square-meter 3D printed mansion that was already fully decorated. Ma Rongquan, China Construction No. 8 Engineering Bureau’s chief engineer, was hoping that both projects would pave the way for more unified standards around 3D printed construction.
“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,” he said.
2. HuaShang Tengda Quake-Proof Villa in China
Another popular 3D printed construction in China is designed and built by HuaShang Tengda. The 3D printer building is nearly indestructible because it boasts the capability of withstanding a magnitude 8.0 earthquake, according to Digital Trends.
Although it’s a bonafide mansion and the company hasn’t released its official price, one can expect that the cost was way beyond low compared to building a similar structure in the traditional way because it uses additive manufacturing or 3D print technology. This 3D-printed mansion was manufactured for only 45 days.
It was built completely on-site in one fell swoop. However, the 3D printed structures were manufactured at separate facilities and pieced together at a later time.
The company created a new print-process technology used in these main operations — concrete mixing, transmission, electronic ingredient formulating and 3D printing. They only used 20 tons of concrete for the entire villa.
However, before they assembled the 3D structures, the crew worked on the building’s frame, rebar support and plumbing first. After finishing the 3D printing and assembly, the crew painted and decorated the home’s interior.
“Because of its speed, low cost, simple and environmentally friendly raw materials, [it should] generally improve the quality of people’s lives,” said HuaShang Tengda on its website. “Particularly with the use of the new rural construction, [it] can now improve farmers’ living conditions. [The technology] will have immeasurable social benefits.”
3. Office Of the Future Building in Dubai by Apis Cor
Dubai, the home of the world’s tallest building, Burj Khalifa, also became the home of the world’s largest 3D-printed building as verified by the Guinness Book of World Records in 2020, after Dubai Future Foundation constructed its first 3D printed commercial building called Office of the Future with the help of Apis Cor, the industry’s leading construction 3D printing company. Dubai’s achievement in 3D printing construction isn’t really surprising as the city has a track record of building extravagant landmarks.
Office of the Future was manufactured using a 3D printer measuring 20 feet high, 120 feet long and 40 feet wide. The entire structure was printed using a giant cement printer and assembled on site. The printing process only took 17 days and it was installed in only two days.
But that’s not all — the building is an engineering feat because it was built with only three workers and one 3D printer that moved around the site by crane. The 3D printed wall was placed on a concrete foundation and reinforced with more traditional construction materials or rebar and concrete. Contractors were also brought into the project to install windows and the roof.
Its walls are 31 feet tall and the entire structure is 6,900 feet making it the largest 3D printed building in the world. The government of Dubai also took pride in it for being the first two-story structure of its kind because it is gearing toward sustainability thanks to its local materials and efficient insulation that reduce energy consumption.
The two-story administrative building will be used by the Dubai municipality. And following its success, the city plans to have one-quarter of all buildings built with 3D printing by 2030, Insider reported.
4. 3D Printed House in Antwerp, Belgium by Kamp C
Kamp C built a prototype 3D-printed house with two floors using what it calls Europe’s largest 3D printer. The project measures around 90 square meters. It’s the first 3D-printed house with two fours, New Atlas reported.
It was constructed using a COBOD BOD2 printer measuring 10 x 10 meters. The process includes extruding a special cement-like mixture, building up the basic structure in layers and continuing it until the building was complete.
They only hire a human workforce to put the finishing touches like the roofs and windows. The interior of the prototype home has similar dimensions to a typical Belgian house with an entrance hall, two conference rooms, and a tiny kitchen area.
Kamp C also added sustainable and energy-saving extras including underfloor heating, solar panels and a heat pump. The company plans to use a green roof for its future projects.
The house was completed on-site for over three weeks. However, Kamp C reckoned that the time of the construction could actually be reduced to two days in the future. Overall, 3D printing the house reduces the production cost and construction time.
“The material’s compressive strength is three times greater than that of the conventional quick build brick,” explains Marijke Aerts, the project manager.
“Besides the fibers in the concrete, the amount of wire-mesh reinforcement used is extremely limited. As a result of the printing technology used, formwork was redundant, saving an estimated sixty percent on material, time, and budget.”
5. Two-Story Detached House in Germany by PERI GmbH and MENSE-KORTE
Germany is one of the countries in Europe that immediately incorporate 3D printing in construction.
In 2020, it was able to build its first 3D printed residential building in Beckum, North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany with builder PERI GmbH and designer MENSE-KORTE ingenieure+architekten.
Both companies had worked together to manufacture a two-story building that measures approximately 860 square feet.
They use a special 3D printer called BOD2 by Danish manufacturer COBOD. The versatile machine allows the addition of pipes and other internal building components while it is 3D printing. It can print up to 1 square foot of double-skin wall in just five minutes, according to ArchDaily.
The building was constructed for Hous3Druck GmbH and it was considered a milestone in the construction sector in Germany because it increases the demand and popularity of residential printing projects in the country.
For the builder, 3D printing makes the job easy for them because the printer can move along its frame to any position within the construction and only needs to be calibrated once. It consists of triple-skin cavity walls, and an insulating compound. The manual work was for the installation of empty pipes and connections within the printing area which can be done while 3D printing is in progress.
“3D construction printing fundamentally changes the way we build and the process of residential construction. As this is the first building of its kind, we are making a point of printing at a slower rate than what is actually possible. We want to take the opportunity to gain further experience in day-to-day operations as this will help us to leverage the cost reduction potential of our technology to a greater extent in the next printing project,” said Leonhard Braig, Production & Supply Chain Director at PERI GmbH.
The 3D printing technology also helps designers by giving them freedom especially when it comes to the building’s cost.
“The concrete printing process affords us, designers, a high degree of freedom when we are designing buildings. With conventional construction methods, this would only be possible at a great financial cost. With our printed residential building in Beckum, we are demonstrating the potential of the construction printing process,” said Waldemar Korte, partner MENSE-KORTE ingenieure+architekten.
6. 3D Printed House in the Netherlands by Saint-Gobain Weber Beamix
There is no doubt that Europe is one of the continents that are into construction 3D printing because in several countries there has at least one 3D printed building. In April, a Dutch couple became Europe’s first tenants of a fully 3D printed house.
The couple Elize Luz and Harrie Dekkers are retired shopkeepers from Amsterdam, received the digital key — an app that allows them to open the front of their two-bedroom bungalow at the press of a button.
The building is the first of five homes constructed by firm Saint-Gobain Weber Beamix in the Eindhoven suburb. It boasts 94 square meters of living space. It was the first habitable and commercially rented property in the city where the load-bearing walls have been made using a 3D printer nozzle.
“This is also the first one which is 100% permitted by the local authorities and which is habited by people who actually pay for living in this house,” Bas Huysmans, chief executive of Weber Benelux, a construction offshoot of its French parent company Saint-Gobain, was quoted by The Guardian as saying.
The process involved a huge robotic arm with a nozzle that squirts out a specially formulated cement with a whipped cream-like texture. The cement is printed according to the architect’s design and is added layer upon layer to create a wall to increase its strength.
Roof and window frames were then fitted and finishing touches were applied before it was handed over to the market.
“If you look at what time we actually needed to print this house it was only 120 hours,” Huysmans said.
“So all the elements, if we would have printed them in one go, it would have taken us less than five days because the big benefit is that the printer does not need to eat, does not need to sleep, it doesn’t need to rest. So if we would start tomorrow, and learned how to do it, we can print the next house five days from now,” Huysmans explained.
Luz and Dekkers were both very happy with their new home. In fact, they have nothing but praises for it.
“It is beautiful,” said Lutz. “It has the feel of a bunker – it feels safe,” Dekkers added.
7. 3D Printed House in Texas by Icon
The United States has also started to embrace 3D printing in the construction sector. The country just had its first 3D printed homes in Austin, Texas, which was put to market in March at a starting price of around $450,000.
The project was hailed by 3D printing firm Icon as the USA’s first 3D-printed home. Icon welcomed investment from high-profile Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG) and created the project in collaboration with Kansas City developer 3Strands. The homes were designed by Logan Architecture.
Using 3D printing in construction reduces the cost and time it takes for construction. However, this project is geared more towards the people with more money because it features a hybrid construction.
The first floor of the home is 3D printed using Icon’s Vulcan printer that extrudes cement-like mixture in layers and builds up the structure. It then added doors and windows.
Meanwhile, the second floor is constructed using the traditional methods and includes a timber frame. It is not wholly 3D printed but it is designed to withstand natural disasters.
“The one-of-a-kind homes designed by Logan Architecture for developer, 3Strands, are the latest homebuilding project using Icon’s Vulcan construction system to deliver sustainable, resilient and beautiful housing,” Icon said in a press release.
“The first floor of these highly energy-efficient homes were 3D printed using Icon’s advanced material that is stronger and longer-lasting than traditional building materials.
3D printing technology provides safer, more resilient homes that are designed to withstand fire, flood, wind and other natural disasters better than conventionally built homes and that can be built in a matter of weeks.
To date, Icon has delivered two dozen 3D-printed homes across central Texas and in Mexico and this marks the first mainstream housing project for the startup.”
8. Sustainable Structures in Africa
Many people in Africa do not have their own homes. According to the Homeless World Cup Foundation, the main causes of homelessness in South Africa are significant housing shortage, 28% unemployment and urbanization.
As of 2015, there are 200,000 homeless people living on the street alone and roughly 79% of the population are under the poverty line. But 14Trees, a LafargeHolcim and CDC Group joint venture, has been working on ways to bring affordable housing and schools to the continent. They take construction innovations from the lab to the lot and their 3D printed homes are sustainable and environment-friendly too.
They have been working on sustainable and affordable structures using COBOD’s BOD2 3D printer and it only requires two human operators. COBOD already sent experts to Malawi to give local workers proper training.
“We are very encouraged by the fact that 14Trees now has brought our technology to beneficial use in Africa, and we are impressed by the speed they manage to achieve for the printing of the walls of the first buildings, COBOD Founder and General Manager Henrik Lund-Nielsen told 3D Printing Media Network.
“The shortage of affordable housing and schools in Africa is overwhelming, and we do believe that our technology can play a vital role in solving this, not at least by increasing the speed of execution.”
9. Gaia House in Italy by WASP
Gaia is an eco-sustainable house model designed and built by a 3D printer called Crane Wasp. The word Gaia in Ancient Greek means land or earth. The 3D printer uses natural waste materials coming from the rice production chain like chopped straw and rice husks and has almost zero environmental impact. But the main binder of the constituent mixture is raw soil.
Gaia is a 30-square meter house with a 3D-printed outer shell and internal timber beams holding a timber roof. It was printed in Massa Lombardo, an Italian town in the region of Emilia-Romagna, in October 2018.
“Gaia is the result of a limited and optimised use of agricultural resources, which through technology have been converted into a complex building with a minimal environmental footprint,” WASP told Dezeen.
According to the company, Gaia is biodegradable.
“If the building isn’t maintained, it will turn back into soil,” it stated.
Gaia was constructed for only 10 days using the Crane Wasp with a 20 square meters surface and printed building envelope of 30 square meters.
The suspended 3D printer extruded the mixture layer by layer to create the walls with vertical cavities inside. It was then filled with rice husks for insulation to keep the temperature inside the house comfortable and to eliminate the need for internal heating even during the winter.
Rice husks are also used to create a plaster for coating the structure’s internal walls and as a layer of insulation on top of its roof.
WASP told Dezeen that using the 3D printing technology was time-efficient and cheap because it finished the job in less than two weeks.
“Gaia is a highly performing structure in terms of energy, with almost no environmental impact,” the company said.
WASP believes that agricultural waste could become a major resource in the building industry and that it’s possible to develop other materials suitable for extrusion like demolition waste from pre-existing buildings to create new structures.
3D printing has been very useful in the construction sector. It reduces the cost and labor and shortens the construction time.
More and more countries from different continents have already started 3D printing buildings and they can see how it will change the business in a few years from now. Dubai, China and a number of countries in Europe and Africa are already using 3D printers in construction.
Construction 3D printing is the answer to the housing shortage. It can also make housing more affordable and accessible to everyone around the world.
Large 3D printers build 3D printed structures or homes using a mixture of concrete cement and other materials with minimal manpower or labor. There is no doubt that 3D printing is the future of the construction industry!
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