One year ago, CyBe Construction founder and managing director Berry Hendriks succeeded in cracking the concrete 3D printing technology that he started developing in November of 2013. The goal of CyBe was to revolutionize the construction industry by developing high-quality, dependable on-site concrete 3D printers that could be integrated into the modern construction process. Concrete 3D printers would just be another construction tool that would allow buildings and structures to be fabricated faster and with more precision. Once Hendriks had his working concrete 3D printer the next step was to develop commercial applications for his technology, which he spent the last year working on.
If last year was about Hendriks developing commercial applications for his concrete 3D printing technology, then it looks like 2016 is the year that we actually get it. Hendriks’ plan is to release the CyBe 3d printable mortar, possibly as early as January, and then to focus on getting his ProTo 3DP Concrete 3D Printer certified by the EU so it can be deployed by construction companies. While his new printer is finished and ready to go, if it doesn’t have certification then it can’t legally be used on-site, so that is a big hurdle for Hendriks and CyBe to overcome. However it looks like his technology is sound, and there is little doubt that it will find itself available very soon.
The CyBe 3D printable mortar material is a remarkable quick-drying cement product that can be formed into load-bearing structures within an hour. That rapid drying rate means that it can easily be printed into freeform or parametric designs that do not need the frames and support structures that traditional methods would require. The complete hydration or curing process is done in under 24 hours, and the final structure will be completely watertight. The CyBe mortar is also one of the most environmentally friendly concrete production methods, not only is it reusable so there is no concrete waste, but when used with the ProTo 3DP Concrete 3D Printer the mortar can reduce CO2 production by as much as 75%. Hendriks is hoping to offer his mortar to competitors and other companies with similar concrete 3D printing technology, however he says that the CyBe team will have to analyze the printer to ensure compatibility.
The CyBe ProTo 3DP Concrete 3D Printer has also been dramatically refined and improved since he first presented it last year. The machine can either quickly print the object, or print with a smoother texture that eliminates the layered “frosting” look often associated with concrete 3D printers. The ProTo 3DP is based on a robotic construction arm that has a reach of over ten feet (3.15 meters) and is capable of a 30mm layer. It can print concrete at speeds from 10mm per second up to 400mm per second depending on the size of the printhead being used. Hendriks also improved the printing algorithms, allowing the ProTo 3DP to print a 7.5-foot-tall object in just about 20 minutes. Not only is that impressive on its own, but considering that the small, scale model takes 8 hours to print on an FDM 3D printer, it’s downright extraordinary.
“Compared with the beginning of this year we have grown and learned that we can only get the most out of the technology when we keep focusing on the development of it and educate our clients how to use the 3D printers in their business processes to experience the benefits. In this way everyone keeps doing what they are good at, we develop 3D concrete printers and our customers create products with them. After all the construction companies know best how to build buildings, and currently it can’t be done only by using one single 3D concrete printer,” explained Hendriks.
The most important step for CyBe right now is obtaining that EU certification so they can start selling the ProTo 3DP to companies who can put it to work on active construction sites. To help speed up the certification process, CyBe has been working on a joint project with the Eindhoven University of Technology (TU/e), a research college that helps develop new commercial and industrial technology, in the Netherlands to develop a process for creating on-site concrete 3D printed structural walls using the CyBe technology.
You can see a video of the ProTo 3DP being used to test the viability of 3D printing a free-form structure from concrete:
CyBe is also helping to develop a green concrete material derived from plant materials with NNRGY corps, an organization working to develop raw materials for construction and consumer products that can be manufactured locally. Not only would this make local communities more self-sustainable, but it would reduce worldwide CO2 emissions caused by transporting traditional raw materials all over the world. CyBe is also offering concrete 3D printing services, so local designers and contractors can have small-scale concrete structures 3D printed for them, like benches, large planters and sculptural features.