A giant gantry printer has completed Europe’s biggest 3D-printed, two-storey, 91 sq metre home in just three weeks — but designers say this could be reduced to as little as two days in the future.
Europe’s largest 3D-printer builds two-story house in 3 weeks
While you might be familiar with 3D-printing being used to render smaller-sized models or prototypes, did you realise the technology can also be used to print far larger objects? In Belgium, Europe’s largest ever 3D-printed home—a two story structure with two living rooms, a kitchen, bathroom, and foyer—has recently been completed by the Belgian sustainable construction company Kamp C, hugely advancing the science of 3D-printed housing. With this feat, the project partners hope to raise interest in the building industry about the use of 3D concrete printing as a building technique.
3D-printing in construction is experiencing an uptick around the world
You can find Flanders’ first 3D-printed model home on the premises of Kamp C in Westerlo, near Antwerp (Belgium). The two-storey house is eight metres tall and has a floor area of 90 square metres, the average size of a terraced house in this region.
“What makes this house so unique, is that we printed it with a fixed 3D concrete printer”, says Emiel Ascione, the project manager at Kamp C. “Other houses that were printed around the world only have one floor. In many cases, the components were printed in a factory and were assembled on-site. We, however, printed the entire building envelope in one piece on-site.”
The house was printed as part of the European C3PO with financing from ERDF (the European Regional Development Fund). With this feat, the project partners hope to raise interest in the building industry about the use of 3D concrete printing as a building technique.
The building industry has expressed plenty of interest. 3D-printing in construction is experiencing an uptick around the world. Several possibilities, including the printing of provisional housing and even complete apartments, are already being implemented, but this technology is still very novel in Flanders.
At the same time, the construction industry is facing unprecedented challenges: to reduce consumption of materials and energy, reduce CO2 emissions and the waste stream, the demand for high-quality and affordable housing is on the rise, and so on.
At Kamp C, they believe that new technologies, such as 3D concrete printing, can help provide a response; and that, they say, is why they created this unique location on their site, where construction companies can experiment with 3D printing, together with research and education institutions.
The model home is 3 times sturdier than quick build brick
The printed house is three times sturdier than a house built with quick build bricks. “The material’s compressive strength is three times greater than that of the conventional quick build brick”, Marijke Aerts, the project manager at Kamp C, explains. This first house is a test. The researchers will now check whether solidity is retained over time.
Besides the fibres in the concrete, the amount of wire-mesh reinforcement used is extremely limited. As a result of the printing technology used, formwork was redundant, saving an estimated 60% on material, time, and budget. In the future, an entire house could be printed in just under two days. If you add up all the days, it took just three weeks to print the house at Kamp C.
The model home was designed to showcase the technology and the potential of 3D printing. “We printed an overhang, it has heavily curved walls, different types of walls… We also incorporated solutions to the traditional thermal bridge, eliminating cold bridges altogether”, says Ascione. “We developed a low-energy house, with all the mod cons, including floor and ceiling heating, special façade solar panels and a heat pump, and we will also be adding a green roof.”
“When we started to build it, we had no idea which use the building would have. Our aim was to print the floor area, height, and shape of an average contemporary home, in the form of a model home with multipurpose options. This is a principle of circular building. The building can be used as a house, a meeting space, an office, or an exhibition space. People can visit the house from September after making an appointment”, says Piet Wielemans, an architect at Kamp C.
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