The concrete 3D printer at Eindhoven University of Technology. [Credit: Rien Meulman]

When it comes to concrete 3D printing, the municipality of Eindhoven in the Netherlands is the place to be…more specifically, the Eindhoven University of Technology (TU/e). In 2015, the university began an extended concrete 3D printing project, which resulted in a giant concrete 3D printer that was formally introduced in 2016 when it 3D printed a pavilion on campus during a public demonstration.

A year later, TU/e’s concrete research group, headed up by concrete technology professor Theo Salet, partnered with Netherlands construction company BAM Infra to 3D print the world’s first concrete bike and pedestrian bridge in Gemert, which is now open to the public.

Concrete 3D printing is something of a game-changer in the construction industry, due first and foremost to its sustainability. Less concrete is needed to build houses when 3D printing is used as the manufacturing method, which means less cement. This lowers the COemissions which originate from producing cement. 3D printing can be used to construct objects in almost any shape, and allows architects to design very fine concrete structures.

[Image: Project Milestone]

In addition, it’s possible to 3D print all colors, kinds, and qualities concrete in the same product, which allows many different functions to be integrated into the same structure. This makes it easier to accommodate the specific wishes of individuals, at only a minimal extra cost, for their newly constructed homes.

Now, the city of Eindhoven is continuing its important work with 3D concrete printing, as it will be taking part in a world first collaborative project that’s all to do with 3D printing concrete housing.

Project Milestone counts TU/e, Eindhoven itself, contractor Van Wijnen, real estate manager Vesteda, materials company Saint Gobain-Weber Beamix, and engineering firm Witteveen+Bos as its project partners. The goal of the project is to 3D print five concrete houses, starting this year, that will all be occupied once completed.

An artist impression of the five 3D-printed concrete houses that will be realized in Eindhoven. [Image: Houben/Van Mierlo architects]

The 3D printed concrete houses will be built over the next five years in Meerhoven, the newest city quarter in Eindhoven that is expanding. Vesteda is the prospective buyer of the houses, and will rent them to tenants. Each of the five 3D printed homes will be subject to existing building regulations, and will, as TU/e puts it, “meet the demands of current-day occupants concerning comfort, lay-out, quality and pricing.”

[Image: Project Milestone]

The design of the 3D printed homes is actually based on “erratic blocks in a green landscape,” and 3D printing makes it possible to achieve the irregular building shapes. The project partners are also working to develop a design that’s high quality and sustainable; for instance, these 3D printed concrete houses will not have natural gas connections, which is rare for Dutch homes.

The first of the 3D printed houses, which should be ready for occupation by its new tenants in the first half of 2019, will only have a single story. But, the rest of the homes will be multi-story.

The houses will be built consecutively, and research on concrete 3D printing will also be completed during the construction process, in order to pave the way for continued innovation. This way, after each house is completed, the Project Milestone partners can apply the lessons they’ve learned during the process to the next house. The university’s concrete 3D printer will be used to complete the building elements of the first house, and then the goal is slowly move all of the work to the actual construction sites. The fifth and final house will be 3D printed on site.

You can learn more about Project Milestone, and see some of the work in progress, in the video, which is not in English:

Discuss concrete construction and other 3D printing topics at 3DPrintBoard.com or share your thoughts in the Facebook comments below. 

[Source: TU/e]

 

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