The Netherlands has been on the radar quite often lately within 3D printing, from cool 3D printed goods in the retail arena to an entirely 3D printed and recyclable building. And while we’ve seen an interest in concrete 3D printing from that area of the world and even the creation of a massive new concrete 3D printer not too long ago at Eindhoven University of Technology, we’ve yet to see such a real-life application as that currently being introduced by two companies both engaged in the Dutch construction sector.
From 3D printed skyscrapers to office buildings to massive city projects, the future is said to be quite promising for 3D printing in construction, and especially with the use of concrete, as well as materials like 3D printable quick drying mortar, which we wrote about last year in connection with CyBe Construction, a company whose aim is to redefine construction, and who plays a part—as does their mortar—in the story we’re telling today. For that matter, so does Dutch construction company Heijmans, collaborator on the MX3D Bridge as well as the 3D printed Canal House. The two having been working together in making and testing useful construction elements—and they tell us that it’s the first time such items have been made this way in the Netherlands.
The partnering teams created both a hollow formwork and a formwork with a straight and double curved side as tests in exploring civil applications for both road and hydraulic engineering, with one of these frameworks now sitting in front of the Heijmans head office in Rosmalen as testament to the success of their recent project.
“Although the technology still requires further testing and refinement, 3D concrete printing mainly provides the necessary opportunities,” says Jurre van der Ven of Heijmans. “Our aim is to print a double curved concrete formwork, which we will fill with reinforced concrete, and then use it to construct a bridge or a viaduct, because if an element is strong enough for such heavy constructions, it can be further developed and used for residential building. The tests we have recently carried out were successful.”
The first 3D print, the hollow formwork at 1.25m wide, 35cm deep and 3.1m high, was filled with water by the team as they worked to establish maximum load for the form.
“From the test on the first construction element it appears that the characteristic value of the concrete we printed (CyBe Mortar) is greater than previously calculated. We are extremely satisfied with this,” says Berry Hendriks of CyBe Construction. “From practical research and tests of this nature we see that the technology is becoming more widely applicable.”
For the second formwork, at 2.5m high, they imparted a smooth finish to the bottom half of the curved size to see how the concrete would respond post-treatment, as well as to inspect moss and algae growth (not something the general layperson would expect to hear).
The formworks took a mere 25 minutes to print, demonstrating great potential for the future as residential clients begin to ask for more complex designs and forms resulting in shapes for structures like viaducts. As the team here points out, this can of course be done traditionally, but costs substantially in design hours and manual labor. It’s quite staggering to realize that via 3D printing, the same quality or better can be realized faster—and at up to 50% less.
“Above all, we notice from this that the advantages of 3D concrete prints are becoming more visible. Ultimately, it will help us to facilitate the sector with this technology so that construction can be carried out faster, cheaper and at a higher quality.”
Heijmans and CyBe anticipate using a printed formwork element in a project by mid-2017. Check out more details on the project from Heijmans. Discuss in the 3D Printed Concrete Formworks forum over at 3DPB.com.