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Fri December 04 2020

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Arup team unveils 3D-printed house

17 Apr 18 A 3D-printed house designed by Arup and CLS Architects has been unveiled as part of the Salone del Mobile design festival in Milan.

The house was printed on site by a portable robot. The project is intended to showcase the role 3D printing can play in reducing construction waste by increasing efficiencies during the building process and allowing materials to be reused at the end of the building’s life.

“We are at Salone del Mobile to build momentum,” said Arup Europe materials consulting lead Guglielmo Carra. “We need to make a major shift in the way the construction industry operates, away from today’s ‘make, use, dispose’ mentality. We’ve shown with this building that 3D printing technology is now advanced enough to take on more complex structures, and design buildings to be repurposed or reused at the end of their life. This technology is critical to helping our industry become far more accurate, efficient and less wasteful.”

Arup said that construction industry is currently one of the world’s biggest users of resources; in the UK alone, it accounts for 60% of all raw materials consumed. The concrete 3D-printed house can be taken apart and reassembled elsewhere.  Arup, a partner of the Ellen McArthur Foundation, has applied experience gained on its Circular Building, which was constructed out of fully re-usable components.

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The project differs from many other 3D processes in its use of a robotic manipulator, mounted on a movable base for increased flexibility, rather than fixed 3D printers. A robot from Cybe Construction was used to print the walls, while the roof, windows and doors were completed afterwards. Cement suppliers Italcementi provided advice for the base concrete mix used during the printing operations.  

The one-storey concrete house covers 100m2; it has curved walls, a living area, bedroom, kitchen and bathroom. It is made up of 35 modules that have each been printed in 60-90 minutes; the full house was printed in an effective time of just 48 hours.

“This building represents a milestone for 3D printing applied to construction,” said Arup’s Italy building practice leader Luca Stabile. “The industry is fast moving towards increased levels of automation. Robots are opening up a number of possibilities for realizing the next generation of advanced buildings. Digital tools combined with new technologies will enable the production of custom made shapes that cannot be produced otherwise. We are pushing the boundaries and contributing to radical innovation through new manufacturing technologies and materials.”

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