3D printed house in Russia [Image: SPECAVIA]

By now, it’s no longer a surprise when houses and other buildings are 3D printed. It’s still highly impressive, of course, that companies can create entire livable, workable buildings with giant 3D printers – sometimes in as little as a day’s time. Though 3D printing methods vary, often these houses are constructed by laying down concrete a layer at a time, using giant robotic 3D printers controlled by computers bearing CAD files. These CAD files typically hold the design of the entire house, with spaces left for the windows and doors, which are added later.

We don’t hear much about the windows and doors themselves being 3D printed, but they can be, and Swedish company NorDan AB is investing in a large-scale 3D printer specifically for that purpose. NorDan was founded in 1926 and is part of the larger NorDan Group. The company has approximately 1,600 employees and multiple factories spread across Norway, Sweden and Poland. NorDan’s main method of constructing windows and doors is woodwork, but now it is incorporating 3D printing into its operations.

NorDan has entered into a multilateral contract with BLB Industries AB, which provides large-scale, granular 3D printers. BLB Industries’ 3D printers print with Fused Granular Fabrication (FGF), which involves the use of granular plastics rather than filament. Customers are able to 3D print with their own plastics, of almost any type. Founded in 2015, BLB Industries produces 3D printers ranging in size from 200 x 200 x 200 mm to 5000 x 5000 x 5000 mm.

One of those 3D printers will be delivered to NorDan this spring and will be used to 3D print both commercial products and prototypes of up to 1.5 meters wide and 2.5 meters tall. The 3D printer will be capable of printing in a wide variety of polymers as well as biocomposites including non-fossil-based raw materials and polymers mixed with wood, straw, cork and hemp. It has a build volume of 2500 x 1500 x 1500, or 5.625 cubic meters. It also has dual extruders, which will allow for more than one material and nozzle size in the same print. BLB Industries calls the machine “highly advanced.”

[Image: BLB Industries]

Test production of doors has been carried out with the new machine, and it will arrive at NorDan’s factory in the next few months. NorDan has been constructing windows and doors the same way for a long time, but 3D printing them will allow the company to save both time and money. Like any smart company, NorDan is embracing new technology in order to stay ahead of its industry.

Can a house be considered fully 3D printed without 3D printed windows and doors? That’s a matter of opinion, but NorDan is making it easy for companies to eliminate that question altogether by adding 3D printed windows and doors to their 3D printed structures. NorDan is a leader in the construction industry, and by incorporating 3D printing into its production processes, it now has the opportunity to become a leader in technology as well.

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