LafargeHolcim expands affordable 3D printed housing project in Zimbabwe
Lafarge Cement Zimbabwe, subsidiary of construction materials specialist LafargeHolcim, is poised to build affordable, low-carbon homes in Zimbabwe using the company’s concrete 3D printing technology.
The project aims to address the chronic shortage of housing and school infrastructure in Zimbabwe, with construction scheduled to start later this year.
“To showcase the capabilities of 3D printing, Lafarge Cement Zimbabwe will build 10 units in Knockmalloch as part of the affordable housing project currently underway,” the company says The Herald.
“This project will allow relevant stakeholders to witness and experience the capabilities of this innovative technology and it is expected that this will attract more projects towards the use of technology to provide decent and affordable housing.
Meeting the demand for affordable housing in Africa
The concrete 3D printing technology that Lafarge Cement Zimbabwe will use during the project was developed by 14Trees, subsidiary of LafargeHolcim and joint venture with CDC Group, the UK’s public impact investor.
Using LafargeHolcim’s proprietary ink, 3D printing technology is expected to significantly reduce the time and cost of building homes and schools. The project started in Malawi, where the first prototype house was built. The walls of the house were printed in just 12 hours, while the first school prototype was printed in 18 hours.
In addition to speeding up the construction of new buildings, 14Trees’ 3D printing technology would reduce the carbon footprint of building new homes by up to 70% by optimizing the use of materials.
“I am very excited about the work of our 14Trees joint venture, which is innovating in 3D printing technology to accelerate affordable and sustainable construction, from homes to schools,” said Miljan Gutovic, Head of the Middle East Africa region and member of the LafargeHolcim executive committee, in December when the project was first announced. “It’s a great example of our commitment to building for people and the planet.”
The technology was initially deployed in Malawi during the first phase of the project before being deployed in Kenya and Zimbabwe. LafargeHolcim recently opened a new $ 2.8 million dry mortar plant in Zimbabwe that will produce the 3D printable ink needed for local construction projects.
LafargeHolcim 3D printing technology
LafargeHolcim’s concrete 3D printing process used in the project consists of a 3D printer with a robotic mechanical arm that deposits the proprietary ink in patterned layers that ultimately make up the walls of a building.
The company’s technology and proprietary building materials have also been involved in several other 3D printing construction projects.
For example, over the past two years, the company has worked with GE Renewable Danish energy construction and 3D printing company COBOD to develop “record” 3D printed turbine towers. The partners successfully printed a 10-meter-tall turbine tower last year, and the environmental benefits of the project were recently presented to world leaders at President Joe Biden’s climate summit.
LafargeHolcim also won a design-build contract for a 40-meter 3D printed pedestrian walkway for the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris. The company is part of a consortium made up of a civil engineering company Freyssinet, Architects Levigne and Cheron, computer and artificial intelligence (AI) company Quadric and a large-scale 3D printing company XtreeE, who will work together to build the bridge deck entirely from 3D printed concrete.
LafargeHolcim previously participated in a collaborative 3D printing research and development project aimed at developing innovative 3D printing systems and materials for construction. Spanish construction consortium 3DCONS, of which LafargeHolcim is a part, hopes that its research will enable the future automation of the construction, rehabilitation and thermal insulation of buildings through 3D printing.
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Featured images show 14Trees uses 3D printing to address Africa’s housing and infrastructure shortage. Image via 14Trees.