While building a house used to take a fair amount of time, at least several months, 3D printing technology has come and disrupted the field of construction by speeding up the process. It seems like every other day, we’re hearing about a 3D printed bridge, or office building, or skyscraper, and even 3D printed two-story houses and hotels. While many of these projects took less than two months to build, researchers in France from the University of Nantes, Nantes Métropole, Nantes Métropole Habitat (NMH), and Ouest Valorisation, with help from teams at the Nantes Digital Science Laboratory and the Institute of Research in Civil and Mechanical Engineering, will soon use an industrial 3D printer and cutting-edge technology to build a house in only a few days.
The five-room house is named YHNOVA and will be built in the Bottière district of Nantes, boasting a surface area of 95 m², larger than a house recently 3D printed in 24 hours in Russia. This house will be built with complex architectural shapes, like doors, corners, windows, and rounded walls, and the automated, robotic additive manufacturing technique that will be used to construct the YHNOVA house is called BatiPrint3D. This patented 3D printing concrete construction process was developed by the University of Nantes.
“Batiprint3D is the result of an interdisciplinary work between the research teams of the Laboratoire des Sciences du Numérique in Nantes (CNRS, Ecole Centrale, Inria, IMT Atlantique) and the Institute of Research in Civil and Mechanical Engineering (University of Nantes, CNRS, Ecole Centrale),” explained Benoit Furet, research and project sponsor for the University of Nantes. “This innovative system of depositing a triple wall forming / insulating / structuring makes it possible to build the walls of a house by 3D printing, directly on the site and in a few days only, reducing the delays, the nuisances, the Difficulty and costs.”
The experimental social housing will be constructed in September, during the Nantes Digital Week. The two university laboratories that developed BatiPrint3D aim to use the method to build adaptable, affordable, customizable, and quickly deliverable housing units. Teamwork will be very important in order to succeed in the successful construction of a habitable, sustainable home, using a 3D printing robot.
“YHNOVA is an opportunity to confront and solve technical, environmental, urban, regulatory, phonic, thermal, etc. constraints with the support of various experts involved in this project,” said Marc Patay, Managing Director of Nantes Métropole Habitat. “Thus, Nantes Métropole Habitat brings its expertise as a contracting authority by putting key players in the construction industry at the table to advance this innovative process, especially in the service of social housing of tomorrow.”
One of these key players is the TICA architectural firm, which utilized the BatiPrint3D process to draw the YHNOVA house in such a way as to both respect the vegetation in the wooded area where it will be built and also create an open, elegant layout. Helpful solutions to help coordinate energy and acoustic comfort, and classify specific materials, were developed by consulting firm EGIS, TICA, risk management solutions provider SOCOTEC, and the Scientific and Technical Center for Buildings (CSTB), while SMA BTP insured the highly technical work for NMH. Caisse des Dépôts, which supports projects related to Smart Cities and the national Smart City Demonstrators initiative, is financially supporting the development of YHNOVA.
So, how exactly does BatiPrint3D work? Three layers of material are deposited through a polyarticulated industrial robot to build the wall elevation; two layers of expansive foam will actually form the third layer, made of concrete. The foam layers will stay in place, in order to insulate the YHNOVA house without the use of a thermal bridge. A laser sensor guides the robot’s trajectories from the habitat’s digital mock-up directly onto the slab. The robot is put on an AGV (Automated Guided Vehicle), which is stable enough to allow for a controlled material injection, and adaptable to environmental factors in place at the site.
Luc Stephan, Director of Innovation at Nantes Métropole Habitat, said, “With a cost of €195,000 excluding VAT, including specific development costs, YHNOVA will be equipped with multiple sensors and home automation equipment to evaluate and analyze the behavior of materials, thermal and acoustic quality during the first year of commissioning.”
YHNOVA will be a meeting site for both residents and professionals during the testing period, and will then be rented to a family, according to social housing criteria, that’s chosen by the NMH Housing Award Committee. The mobile robot that builds YHNOVA can be used as a jumping-off point for discussions on rethinking current construction methods, like reducing how painful the work is, and limiting the risk of construction workers developing musculoskeletal problems. In addition, the patented BatiPrint3D process can reduce operating costs and construction time, as well as improve a home’s thermal insulation.
“This partnership project is a new expression of Nantes’ play bringing together actors from different public and private sectors in the service of innovation, City, and its inhabitants,” said Johanna Rolland, Mayor of Nantes and President of Nantes Métropole. “This dynamic has now a facility created by Nantes Métropole – Nantes City Lab – both simple and ambitious: the territory of the metropolis asserts itself as a field of experimentation for all those who wish to develop and test innovative solutions. Helping to build the city of tomorrow and to facilitate everyday life.”
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Note: All quotes are translated.[Source/Images: Nantes Métropole Habitat, University of Nantes]