3D printing architecture

(IAAC) is now seeking to develop 3D technologies in the architecture sector in order to make it easier to carry out more innovative projects. As a research and education centre, its mission is to imagine the future habitat of our society and to build it now. To do so, it uses 3D technologies and develops many projects with one objective: to bring 3D printing on site and democratize its use in the architectural sector. The institute was founded following the emergence of new digital and information technologies in order to prepare the "change makers", those professionals capable of creating and inventing processes and spaces that are more adapted to the environment, more interactive with its users and more influential in relation to social and economic challenges.

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3D printed concrete houses grow like mushrooms. At the cutting edge of innovation, and at the crossroads of architecture, robotics and materials science, it is the Milestone project, led by the Eindhoven University of Technology in the Netherlands and four additional players including the French group Saint Gobain, that is making news in the sector. The first habitable houses in 3D printed concrete will soon be built in the Dutch city of Eindhoven.
 
Dn the city of Eindhoven, the construction of the first of five 3D printed concrete houses will start this year. The municipality of Eindhoven, Eindhoven University of Technology, entrepreneur Van Wijnen, property manager Vesteda, materials company Saint Gobain-Weber Beamix and engineering company Witteveen+Bos are the project partners.
 
The project will be carried out in the expansion area of the city of Eindhoven, Meerhoven, over the next five years. The houses will be intended for the rental market and the first house, which will be single-storey, is expected to be ready for occupancy in the first half of 2019. The other four will be multi-storey houses. The concrete structures will be subject to all the usual requirements of the sector, the necessary certifications, and will meet the needs of the occupants in terms of comfort, layout, quality and price. The houses have been designed by the architects Houben and Van Mierlo, who have come up with original structures. The rounded and asymmetrical shapes of the houses will be realized thanks to 3D concrete printing which offers the ability to build almost any shape. The design aims at a high level of quality and durability. For example, the houses will not be connected to natural gas, which is quite rare in the Netherlands.
 
3D concrete printing
 
During the project, research on concrete printing will be carried out for new innovations. By printing five houses in a row, the various partners will be able to learn from their mistakes during the printing process and improve it if necessary. The project teams explain that the first elements of the house will be printed in 3D on the university campus, with the goal of moving all construction work directly to the site. The fifth and final house is expected to be printed in 3D on site.
 
 
Printer Eindhoven University of Technology
 
Eindhoven is a well-known site for 3D printing on concrete, thanks to the research group of technology professor Theo Salet and his concrete printer. In 2017, the group has already built the country's first 3D printed concrete bridge for cyclists, in the village of Gemert, about 100 kilometres from the capital. Made up of 800 layers of concrete, the 8-metre long and 3.5-metre wide bridge connects two roads and can support up to 5 tonnes.
 
 
 

Reinventing the boundaries of construction

3D printing of concrete could well change the construction industry. The process offers multiple advantages: savings in materials (60 %) compared to traditional construction and, consequently, less waste, thus reducing the cement's high carbon footprint; considerable time savings since the duration of the structural work is divided by two or three and the drying time is greatly reduced; fewer nuisances on the building site, as well as less arduous work for the workers and less risk of accidents. According to Contour Crafting (University of South California), the additive manufacturing process would reduce CO2 emissions by 75 % and grey energy (total energy expenditure evaluated in kWh/tonne, for the production of a material throughout its life cycle, from extraction through processing to recycling) by 50 % compared to traditional techniques. Indeed, additive manufacturing offers the possibility of using only the materials strictly necessary for the progress of the worksite, thus limiting waste, transport costs and raw materials.
 
This architectural revolution offers new opportunities in terms of uses and design to enrich the aesthetic value and comfort of buildings at affordable costs. In addition to the possibility of building almost any shape, sometimes more complex than would have been possible with traditional manufacturing methods, it also allows architects to design very thin concrete structures. Another new possibility is to print all kinds, qualities and colours of concrete, all in a single product. This allows the integration of all kinds of functions in a single building element. In addition, it becomes easy to incorporate individual wishes for each house with a minimum of extra costs.

 

A growing market

3D printing is being used more and more in the construction sector. At the end of 2014, the global additive manufacturing market was estimated at more than $4 billion in value by Wohlers Associates and AT Kearney, an amount that does not take into account the investments made by manufacturers, probably hidden or ongoing. Projections for the growth of additive manufacturing to 2020 vary widely by source, ranging from $11.7 billion to $21.2 billion. At the same time, the research firm Canalys or the American company International Data Corporation envisage much more marked accelerations with a market value estimated at $16 and $21 billion respectively as early as 2018. And according to the American market research company, MarketsandMarket, the 3D construction market could generate a turnover of 56.4 million dollars by 2021. 
 
XtreeE Concrete Pavilion
 
Already in 2016, the Parisian startup XtreeEThe "pavilion", which is the result of the CNAM/ENSAPM/INRIA Democritus university project, related to large-scale additive manufacturing, presented its concrete "pavilion", in the form of a shell, entirely printed in 3D. A prototype made with 3DExperiencelab, the Dassault Systèmes startup accelerator, designed using the publisher's 3D design and simulation software. 
 
DFAB House in Dübendorf
 
Also in Switzerland, ETH Zurich, in collaboration with NEST and the Laboratory for Architecture and Sustainable Technologies (Empa), is building an entire building in Dübendorf using 3D printing. Known as DFAB HouseConstruction work began in late 2016 and is expected to be completed in the fall of 2018. Three floors of 200 m2 are planned.
 
But also in France, in Reims in the Rema'Vert eco-district, where five detached houses should start to emerge from the ground, or in Nantes where in September 2017, the first social housing has been printed in 3D using the Bâtiprint3D process, developed by the University of Nantes for Nantes Métropole Habitat and will be ready for occupancy before this summer.
 

MarketsandMarket lists some of the major players in the market. In Europe, Skansa, a Swedish construction giant whose 3D concrete printing technology should be available within a year, Italy's WASP and its Big Delta, the French 3D construction and XtreeE.
In the world, the Chinese Winsun Globalfamous for its villas and offices printed in 3D, the Dutch firm DUS Architects and its 3D printer KamerMaker or the British Fosters+Partners and its lunar base project with ESA: Foster + Partners has designed a dome-shaped "catenary" carrier shell with a wall of cells to provide protection against micrometeorites and cosmic radiation. It houses an inflatable structure that serves as a habitat for astronauts. A closed-cell structure - similar to that of bird bones - provides a powerful combination of strength and mass.
 
Lunar base habitable space project built by a 3D printer 

 
In the USA, the project of Behrokh Khoshnevis, director of Craft (Center for Rapid Automated Fabrication Technologies) at the University of Southern California and inventor of the very large-scale 3D printing technology. Contour Crafting (CC)which promises to print a house in 24 hours, backed by construction giants Caterpillar and USG.
 
 
The report predicts the arrival of other major construction companies in this market such as the Swiss multinational LafargeHolcim and the British Carillion PLC and Kier Group.

 

Revolution in additive concrete manufacturing

The Institute of Advanced Architecture of Catalonia (IAAC) is now seeking to develop 3D technologies in the architecture sector in order to make it easier to carry out more innovative projects. As a research and education centre, its mission is to imagine the future habitat of our society and to build it now. To do so, it uses 3D technologies and develops many projects with one objective: to bring 3D printing on site and democratize its use in the architectural sector. The institute was founded following the emergence of new digital and information technologies in order to prepare the "change makers", those professionals capable of creating and inventing processes and spaces that are more adapted to the environment, more interactive with its users and more influential in relation to social and economic challenges.
In an interview at 3dnatives.comthe Institute explains: 3D printed concrete houses grow like mushrooms. At the cutting edge of innovation, and at the crossroads of architecture, robotics and materials science, it is the Milestone project, led by the Eindhoven University of Technology in the Netherlands and four additional players including the French group Saint Gobain, that is making news in the sector. The first habitable houses made of 3D printed concrete will soon be built in the Dutch city of Eindhoven. In the city of Eindhoven, the first of five 3D printed concrete houses will start to be built this year. The Municipality of Eindhoven, the University of Eindhoven and the the material of the future - to create architectural elements with intelligence embedded in matter. These compounds can generate, store and distribute energy by following data in real time and without the use of cables or plugs. This could be a very important step forward so that the buildings of the future can exchange energy and data and thus better synchronize with the inhabitants and the environment. »

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Will we thus be able to meet the challenge of population growth and the increasing demand for housing by facilitating faster, more personalized, ecological and economical construction?
 
 
 
To go further :
 
- Thematic dossier " 3D Printing - The revolution in the construction industry " de Ouest Valorisation - September 2017
- Book " Le BIM éclairé par la recherche - Modélisation, collaboration & ingénierie " under the direction of Sylvain Riss, Aurélie Talon and Régine Teulier - Edition Eyrolles, June 2017.

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