Weber Beamix buys concrete 3D printing plant, ‘Striatus’ built in Venice
Since opening in 2019, the complex has become a Dutch innovation center for AM, where designers and provinces have come to create optimized infrastructure and architectural elements. By acquiring the shares of BAM, Weber Beamix aims to streamline the operations of the plant and believes that independence will allow it to better draw the attention of the Netherlands to the potential of concrete 3D printing.
The concrete ambitions of Weber Beamix
Weber Beamix and BAM, two well-established construction companies in their own right, have been working together for at least four years, since they 3D printed a concrete bridge in Nijmegen. Following their initial success, the companies chose to open an industrial-scale, co-owned additive manufacturing plant in 2019, which BAM said would “end the experimental stage of technology” in construction.
The indoor factory, which houses robotic arm-mounted 3D printers, enables the creation of formwork and other large-scale architectural elements, and its facilities were recently deployed by Weber Beamix, the Eindhoven University of Technology, Van Wijnen, Vesteda, Witteveen + Bos and the city of Eindhoven, as part of a larger house-building project in the Netherlands earlier this year.
BAM and Weber Beamix also use the plant’s machinery to create the world’s longest 3D printed concrete pedestrian bridge. Even though the structure is currently under construction in Nijmegen, the bridge itself was made additive in Eindhoven, in the now co-owned complex of the company.
Following the mutually agreed buyout of Weber Beamix, BAM has indicated that it will continue to acquire access to the facilities when this “adds value for its customers.” Weber Beamix, meanwhile, acknowledged BAM’s role in introducing 3D printing “as a construction method in the Netherlands and abroad”, and declared its intention to step up its business. related development and production.
After taking full control of the concrete 3D printing plant, Weber Beamix has also committed to focus on sustainability, industrialization and digitization as it seeks to enter the construction market. independently and to present its large-scale manufacturing capabilities to other local provincial authorities. .
New Venetian 3D printed architecture
Moving from Northern Europe to Southern Europe, a collaborative team of ETH Zurich, Zaha Hadid Architects, incremental3D and LafargeHolcim, are currently 3D printing a new arch bridge in Italy. Nicknamed ‘Striatus’, which means ‘grooved’ or ‘striped’, the structure is being built in the Giardini della Marinaressa Gardens, to be exhibited at the 2021 Venice Architecture Biennale.
It is likely that the bridge was named after its ridged surface texture, but little has been made public about the technology behind its construction. For its part, LafargeHolcim said the structure is intended to support itself without reinforcement, upright only through compressive forces, “effectively establishing a new language” for concrete construction.
By combining masonry with advanced technologies such as computer design and robotic manufacturing, the company also claims that the bridge will only use materials where needed, reducing its larger footprint. Likewise, since the team assembles their design without using binders, unused concrete can be continuously reused, allowing them to build a more complex architecture with less waste.
When completed, the bridge will be 1,600 meters long and weigh up to 1,000 kilograms, which takes a total of 140 hours to complete, with the final product to be displayed as part of the “Time Space Existence” exhibition organized by the European cultural center (ECC) from May 2, 2021 to November 21, 2021.
Building bigger and better bridges
As construction 3D printing technologies continue to advance, architects and bridge construction companies are becoming more daring and ambitious due to the complexity of their designs. Large scale 3D printing company XtreeE, for example, was commissioned to create a lavish 40-meter pedestrian bridge in Paris for the 2024 Olympic Games.
Likewise, a Dutch engineering consulting company Royal HaskoningDHV continuously worked with the material producer DSM to push the limits of additive manufacturing infrastructure in recent years. The firms have worked with CEAD to design a fiber-reinforced ultralight bridge in 2019, before 3D printing a sustainable walkway in Rotterdam using recyclable source materials in July 2020.
Holland has become something of a hotspot for construction 3D printing companies because Vertico has also been very active in this area in recent years. The company has already worked with the Ghent University, to additively fabricate a material-efficient walkway, using 60% less concrete than conventional construction technologies would have required.
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The image shown shows the Weber Beamix concrete 3D printing plant. Photo via Weber Beamix.