We’re now beginning to see additive construction develop into something more than vaporware and pipe dreams. Whereas the astounding concrete 3D printing projects from WinSun were shrouded in mystery and controversy, a number of new initiatives are validating the technology as a viable means for producing parts for the architecture, engineering and construction (AEC) space. One of the most promising is COBOD, which has just announced that it is 3D printing a three-story apartment building in Germany.
Construction has already begun in Wallenhausen, where the PERI Group, one of the world’s largest manufacturers and suppliers of formwork and scaffolding systems, is using COBOD’s BOD2 system to 3D print the walls of the structure. The building will measure 380 m2 and consist of five different apartments owned by Michael Rupp Bauunternehmung GmbH.
Whereas we have seen WinSun unveil a 3D printed apartment complex, it is generally believed that the wall elements were printed off-site and installed in place. Moreover, we do not know what came to be of the structure, whether it serves any specific use. In contrast, the PERI-built apartment complex will be manufactured on-site and rented out once complete, making it the first 3D printed commercial apartment building.
The news comes two months after PERI showcased the first 3D printed building in Germany, a two-floor structure, and several months after Kamp C, another COBOD customer, revealed Europe’s first 3D printed building with two floors in Belgium.
Henrik Lund-Nielsen, Founder and General Manager of COBOD, said of the news: “We are incredibly pleased, that we are beginning to see the fruits of the many 3D construction printers we have sold. The actual building projects have been delayed by the Corona virus, but now they start to be revealed. This new German project is really a great milestone as the commercial nature of the building proves the competitiveness of the 3D construction printing technology for three floors buildings and apartment buildings. This, again, opens entirely new markets for our printers.”
COBOD evolved out of the Building on Demand project from Denmark’s 3D Printhuset. PERI then went on to acquire a minority stake in the company, lending significant credence to the idea that additive construction was more than just hype. We have seen interest from an increasing number of established outfits, including the U.S. Army, GE, and Japanese construction leaders like Taisei and Taiheiyo Cement.
Thomas Imbacher, Innovation and Marketing Director at PERI GmbH, explained: “We are very confident, that 3D construction printing will become increasingly important in certain market segments over the coming years and has considerable potential. By printing the first apartment building on-site, we are demonstrating that this new technology can also be used to print large scale dwellings units. In terms of 3D construction printing, we are opening up additional areas of application on an entirely new level”.
While entirely 3D printed buildings may catch the most attention, the technology has been demonstrated for a variety of useful applications, specifically replacing cast concrete elements. This can perhaps be most evidenced by the COBOD’s work with GE, in which the firm will be 3D printing bases for windmills onsite. The task of casting such structures has limited them in terms of side and geometry. With 3D printing, it may be possible to create larger bases for more effective windmills.
Like many of the technologies reminiscent of science fiction that have emerged from the additive manufacturing space, such as bioprinting and 3D printing in space, additive construction is becoming a reality.
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