3D printed construction is springing up all over the world. Dubai has famously proclaimed that it plans to have a significant percentage of its homes 3D printed in the near future, and has already been proving its capabilities with the 3D printing of an office building and a laboratory. There have been multiple 3D printed buildings constructed in Europe, and 3D printed tiny houses have appeared in the United States as well. The fact that livable buildings are being 3D printed is still astonishing, and even though these buildings are becoming more common, the novelty still hasn’t worn off.
It’s always big news whenever the first 3D printed building appears in a particular location, and recently Colombia constructed its first 3D printed house, courtesy of a company called Constructora Conconcreto. The company has a large-format 3D printer based at the Conconcreto Innovation Center at EIA University in Antioquia, Colombia, where the country’s first 3D printed house has now been constructed. The house has been dubbed Casa Origami, and was built using Constructora Conconcreto’s method of 3D printing large pieces and then putting them together, rather than extruding an entire house in one piece. No molds were required to create the elements for the house.
The 3D printed house is a prototype, but a functional one, with an autonomous electrical system and room for a bathroom, bedroom, dining room and kitchen, totaling 23.4 square meters. Constructora Conconcreto has been working diligently on the formulation of its concrete ‘ink,’ and has used different formulations to 3D print objects such as planters and street furniture before moving up to an entire house, which was designed using BIM modeling. The company has been working with SUMICOL toward its concrete mix development.
The benefits of 3D printing were made clear in the construction of Casa Origami, such as greatly reduced manufacturing time and consumption of materials. 26.82 hours were required to 3D print the house, which was fabricated in 32 pieces. The massive 3D printer can operate 24/7, and the entire project was an eco-friendly one, requiring little waste and using solar panels to power the house.
Constructora Conconcreto, which specializes in construction in Colombia and Panama, is positioning itself to be a leader in the technology in Latin America as well as in the world. 3D printed housing, though it’s becoming more common, is still so new that the companies doing it have the status of pioneers. There hasn’t been much in the way of 3D printed construction in Latin America thus far, which makes Constructora Conconcreto stand out as a company that could make a real difference in the region, especially in areas that are in need of low-cost housing. Constructora Conconcreto has received two patents for its work, the first in the company’s history and heralded as “a huge step for the formalization and evolution of knowledge in the construction sector.”
“They are called, by the organization, as ‘basket for mobilization and unloading of material, with release mechanism’, which is a mechanism for loading and unlocking safe construction materials for civil works on land or under water and the second patent, partial of invention, is for ‘process for Caisson-type foundation formation by means of a shoring cylinder driven with a triangular thrust element’ which is a deep foundation constructive system. Both creations confirm the commitment of the organization to ensure safer construction for its collaborators,” the company explains (translated) of the patents obtained in February.
Constructora Conconcreto is not a new company – it’s been around since 1961, and has shown itself to be more than capable of adapting to changing trends within the industry. While there has been some debate around just how much 3D printing is capable of doing in terms of constructing houses and other buildings at lightning speed, the fact is that it has repeatedly shown itself to be a fast and effective technology that doesn’t seem to be going anywhere. If you add in factors like solar electricity, 3D printed houses can become even less reliant on the conventions that slow down typical construction processes. Constructora Conconcreto looks to be a forward-thinking company that has a future as a leader in 3D printed construction.
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