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Mon August 03 2020

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Europe’s largest 3D concrete printer builds two-storey house

9 Jul A full house has been created in a single piece by Europe’s largest 3D concrete printer.

image © Kamp C & Jasmien Smets
image © Kamp C & Jasmien Smets

The 90-square-metre dwelling was printed by Kamp C, a centre for sustainability and innovation in construction supported by the Province of Antwerp in Belgium.

The two-storey house is 8m tall and its 90-square-metre floor area is equal to the average size of a terraced house in the 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.”

It took just three weeks to print the house at Kamp C; in the future, an entire house could be printed in just under two days, says the team.

The house was printed as part of the European C3PO project with financing from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF).

Eight partners, from the business community and the scientific community, have joined forces for the project. They are Beneens, ETIB/Concrete House, Groep Van Roey, Thomas More, Trias architecten, Ghent University and Vicré. Saint-Gobain Weber is also contributing to the project.

With the completion of the house, the project partners hope to raise interest in the building industry about the use of 3D concrete printing as a building technique.

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Kathleen Helsen, the provincial deputy for housing and the president of Kamp C, said: “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: we must reduce our 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, we believe that new technologies, such as 3D concrete printing, can help provide a response. That is why we created this unique location on our site, where construction companies can experiment with 3D printing, together with research and education institutions.”

The printed house is three times sturdier than a house built with quick build bricks, Kamp C says.  “The material’s compressive strength is three times greater than that of the conventional quick build brick,” said Marijke Aerts, the project manager at Kamp C.

This first house is seen as a test. The researchers will now check whether the solidity is retained over time.

The concrete incorporates fibres and a limited amount of wire-mesh. As a result of the printing technology used, formwork was redundant. This saved an estimated 60% on material, time, and budget, said the team.

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.”

Kamp C architect Piet Wielemans added: “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.”

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