More speed – and new opportunities? How 3D printing is changing home building
Print time instead of build time, a team of two instead of a construction crew, layers of concrete from a giant pump instead of brick on brick. In Germany, the first two residential buildings that were built with a 3D concrete printer were recently erected in North Rhine-Westphalia and Bavaria. In a national premiere, construction supplier Peri presented a two-story single-family house in Beckum, Westphalia. At the opening at the end of July, Ina Scharrenbach (CDU), Minister of Construction of North Rhine-Westphalia, underlined a “far-reaching role model”.
The new construction method promises to save time and a “lean construction process”. But is there also the potential for flood protection and rapid reconstruction – issues of great concern after the flooding?
Considerable time savings during construction
With “in-house printing”, a 3D printer uses a huge nozzle to apply concrete and special mortar in centimeter-thick, digitally controlled layers. Beckum’s house was designed by architecture and engineering firm Mense-Korte over a period of several months. But Peri then printed it in just 100 hours. It is still an exhibition project, later a family will settle. The state of North Rhine-Westphalia is funding the project and hopes that the manufacturing process will prevail in the market and lead to more living space.
Started as the second project, but already inhabited, it is according to Peri the largest printed apartment building in Europe. In the Bavarian Weißenhorn-Wallenhausen (district of Neu-Ulm), it only took about five minutes per square meter of double-walled wall for the three-story five-part house, says Peri. The printer is operated by two people in the process. Recesses, for example for connections and lines, are provided.
Hope for disaster areas
Architect Waldemar Korte believes 3D printing will be widely used. This means that “the whole residential building, from single-family houses to three-story office buildings to twelve-bedroom apartment buildings, can be built.” The stability is excellent. Does he see opportunities for reconstruction measures, such as after the July floods? “Definitely,” Korte said. Although this is still a new technology, a time saving of around 30% is already possible compared to other massive construction methods.
Martin Krause of the Institute for Construction Management at TU Dresden has been researching concrete 3D printing since 2014 – together with building material experts and the professorship with construction machinery. “Around the world, there is a vision and hope that this will help rebuild homes quickly in disaster areas. The scientist sees “very promising application potentials for long-term flood protection walls”. However, such massive walls are not suitable for temporary use, that is, not for movable protective walls, but for durable protection against bodies of water.
Big changes in the construction industry
What about when building a house? “With our full-wall Con-Print-3D process, we can build about three times faster than conventional masonry construction. And we’re five to six times faster than reinforced concrete construction, ”says Krause. He sees no difference in stability. Currently they are also developing printable concrete formulations that have the lowest possible C0.2-Have a footprint. With Con-Print-3D technology, it prudently anticipates market maturity within five to ten years.
An entire structure like this is due to be erected by the end of the year, a sort of modern container building initially for demonstration purposes, the scientist said. The industry is heading for major changes. “We also need the upheaval towards digitization and automation of construction processes in order to be effective on construction sites despite the shortage of skilled labor.
First positive feeling of living
Likewise, the Central Association of the German Construction Industry recently spoke to Tagesschau about an opportunity to relieve the strained construction industry. The chairman of the IG Bauen-Agrar-Umwelt, Robert Feiger, told the German news agency: “In particular in the areas of affordable housing and social housing, we have a large deficit in Germany, where the 3d printer might come in handy. However, care must be taken to ensure that employees are included in the qualification processes. “The bricklayer of today should be able to use the computer tomorrow to build the house.
A spokesperson for Peri points out that we have also already printed a first house in the USA and other projects in progress. And how do you live in such a printed house? A few weeks ago, tenant Annika moved into a 60 square meter apartment in Wallenhausen. “Concrete smells a bit stronger than usual in new homes. And it also resonates a bit, ”explains the 27-year-old. The rental price is “normal”. She loves the grooved look on the exterior walls. “Everything is plastered inside. The first feeling of life is positive. “This is something completely new. And I am convinced that the walls are as stable as in a normal house.
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