21st November 2020
Largest 3D-printed apartment building in Europe
This week, a German company deployed 3D printing technology to begin construction of a new residential block, which is set to become the largest printed apartment building in Europe.
PERI GmbH is a leading manufacturer and supplier of formwork and scaffolding systems, headquartered in Weißenhorn, Germany. In September, the company began work on Germany's first 3D-printed house – a detached residence in Beckum, North Rhine-Westphalia, featuring approx. 80 square metres of living space spread across two floors.
Now, PERI has announced another milestone in the construction industry, with a second 3D-printed house. This time, the location is Wallenhausen, Bavaria, and five apartments will be spread across three floors, together offering 380 square metres of living space. It will become the largest 3-D printed residence in Europe when completed at the end of December. This is not a research or demonstration project. Once construction is complete, the apartments will be rented out in the usual manner. Only one of the dwellings will be used as a show apartment.
"With the project in Wallenhausen, we are seeing the PERI 3D construction team take the next important step," said Thomas Imbacher, Managing Director of Marketing & Innovation at PERI Group. "After printing the first apartment building in Germany, we are demonstrating that this new construction technology can also be used to print large-scale dwelling units. In terms of 3D construction printing, we are opening up additional areas of application on an entirely new level."
PERI is using a gantry printer known as BOD2, supplied by COBOD International, which PERI Group recently acquired a minority stake in. The BOD2 is currently the fastest 3D construction printer available on the market, with a print head that moves at 1 m/s, along three axes (x, y, z) of a securely installed metallic frame that requires only two humans on site and needs to be calibrated just once.
The BOD2 takes only five minutes to complete 1m² of a double-skin wall. The complete timeline for the project in Wallenhausen – from basement, to rooftop and internal fitting out – is scheduled to last six weeks. This compares with 12 months or longer for a typical project of this size using traditional methods.
The machine has been certified in such a way that it is possible to carry out work within the printing area while the printing is still in progress. This means that manual work, such as the installation of empty pipes and connections, can be easily integrated into the printing process.
The client on this apartment project is Michael Rupp Bauunternehmung GmbH, which aims to specialise in the 3D printed building sector from 2021 onwards, through a newly founded subsidiary, Rupp Gebäudedruck.
"Our family-owned company has enjoyed 25 years of success in the industry and has an array of satisfied customers in the region. This means that we have the edge in terms of knowledge and can draw on a wealth of experience as we enter the 3D construction printing market," says Fabian Rupp, Managing Director of Rupp Gebäudedruck.
His brother Sebastian, also a managing director at the company, adds: "At the same time, we believe this new technology has enormous potential for the future, and we want to help shape that future. Despite the traditional nature of our craft, we are also innovative and do not shy away from new challenges – quite the opposite in fact."
The "i.tech 3D" material being used to print the building in Wallenhausen was developed by HeidelbergCement, specifically for 3D printing. "The properties of i.tech 3D are tailored to the specific requirements of 3D construction printing using concrete," says Dr. Jennifer Scheydt, Head of Engineering & Innovation at HeidelbergCement. "Our material has excellent pumping and extruding characteristics, and works perfectly with the BOD2 printer."
"We are incredibly pleased that we are beginning to see the fruits of the many 3D construction printers we have sold," said Henrik Lund-Nielsen, founder and general manager of COBOD. "The actual building projects have been delayed by the coronavirus, 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-floor buildings and apartment buildings."
With its time, cost, and labour-saving advantages, 3D printing of homes and other buildings is unlikely to remain a novelty or passing fad. It looks set to revolutionise the construction industry and could perhaps even be applied to skyscrapers and other major projects in the future. It could be especially useful for time-sensitive situations like disaster relief, where shelters need to go up quickly and cheaply.