Most students will work with a plastic when making things with a 3D printer, but that is only scratching the surface of materials that can be used in these machines. This book takes a look at the different materials that can be used by 3D printers, what those materials can make, and the advantages and disadvantages for each.
Sep 26, 2016 | By Tess
Over the past few years it has become increasingly evident that 3D printing technologies will have a big impact on not only the aerospace, medical, and consumer industries, but could also be at the forefront of a revolution within the field of construction. While we may not be living in 3D printed homes in the very near future, there are a number of promising projects that have come to life over the past few years which have shown us what the potentials of 3D printed construction really are. From fully constructed homes and pavilions, to architectural installations, to projects that are still being realized, lets take a look at some of our favorite 3D printed construction projects to see both the amazing trajectory of additive manufacturing within the field and (let’s be honest) some really cool buildings.
Top 3D printed housing and construction project #1: WinSun China’s 3D printed villa
First on our list had to be WinSun China’s absolutely amazing 3D printed villas, homes, and apartment blocks. The company, which as early as 2014 was 3D printing homes measuring 200 square meters each out of concrete, has since made headlines for the construction of the highest 3D printed building (a five-story apartment block) as well as the world’s first 3D printed villa which measures an impressive 1,100 square meters. How has WinSun achieved such a high level of success in the early stages of 3D printed construction, you may ask? Well, they owe their success to two main things: their innovative 3D printing material which combines recycled construction waste, glass fiber, steel, cement, and other additives; and their large scale 3D printer, which measures an astounding 6.6 meters in height, 10 meters wide, and 150 meters long, making it not only the largest “3D house printed in the world“ but also the first continuously printing machine.
Top 3D printed housing and construction project #2: Dubai’s 3D printed office
Next up is Dubai’s very own, and the world’s very first 3D printed office building, which was constructed in just 17 days. Built from a mixture of cement and other building additives, and built using a 3D printing platform that measured 20 feet high, 120 feet long, and 40 feet wide, the office space was unveiled in May 2016 and is already up and running. The 3D printed office is currently serving as the temporary work space for the Dubai Future Foundation and is located in the vicinity of the Emirates Towers. Also notable about this amazing project is that not only was the office’s sleek exterior structure made with 3D printing, but its interior components, even including its electrical, water, and telecommunications systems were all made with the help of 3D printing technologies.
Top 3D printed housing and construction project #3: Amsterdam’s 3D Print Canal House
In keeping with the theme of Dutch architecture, our next project on the list is the very exciting 3D Print Canal House project, which has been underway in Amsterdam since early 2014. The project was initiated by DUS Architects and is still being worked on by a dedicated team in Amsterdam’s North shore. Using a large 2 x 2 x 3.5 meter KamerMaker 3D printer and a score of different plastic materials, the canal house is being printed piece by piece to be assembled. What’s especially exciting about the project is that it has made its progress open to the public, so that locals can see how the 3D Print Canal House is coming along.
Top 3D printed housing and construction project #4: WinSun’s 3D printed Chinese courtyard
WinSun China, the company that has built an impressive number of 3D printed housing structures, also dabbled in other types of architecture earlier this year having presented their stunning 3D printed Chinese courtyards which were inspired by the Classical Gardens of Suzhou. The original gardens, which date back a thousand years are part of UNESCO’s World Heritage List, are stunningly delicate and have inspired Chinese gardens up to this date. WinSun’s 3D printed Chinese courtyard for its part, was designed by Ma YiHe and features a gallery, garden, windows, a bed, vertical green walls (which can hold plants), and 3D printed chairs and tiles. Two courtyards were made in total, one measuring 130 square meters, and other slightly smaller at 80 square meters.
Top 3D printed housing and construction project #5: Ruijssenaars’ 3D printed Landscape House
While this particular project hasn’t been realized yet it is still one of our favorites, as it shows how 3D printing can open the doors for not only more efficient building practices but also for seemingly impossible building designs. The Landscape House, conceived of and designed by Dutch architect Janjaap Ruijssenaars in 2013, has kept up excitement over the past few years through the unveiling of a 3D printed bench inspired by its design, as well as the creation of the 3D Builder, a freeform concrete 3D printer. This machine, which was developed by Universe Architecture and construction company BAM, will help to finally build Ruijssenaars’ stunning and seemingly endless Landscape House.
Top 3D printed housing and construction project #6: WASP’s Shamballa Technological Park
One of the larger scale projects on this list is Italian 3D printing company WASP’s 3D printed eco-village which is being built in the municipality of Massa Lomarda, Italy. The experimental village, called the Shamballa Technological Park, is currently underway and is being realized with the help of WASP’s large scale (we’re talking 12 meters tall) BigDelta 3D printer. In fact, the project has reportedly completed its first leg of work, having printed a nearly 3 meter tall shelter from a combination of straw and clay. It’s next phase of work will be to complete the structure and to fit it with a roof and door. WASP’s goal with the Shamballa Technological Park project is to demonstrate how a sustainable town can be built with limited money, energy consumption, and material waste.
Top 3D printed housing and construction project #7: WATG 3D printed Curve Appeal home
Curve Appeal, a 3D printed home design, was the winner of the Freeform Home Design Challenge earlier this year, which means that it will soon be a reality. The innovative design was conceived of by Chicago architecture firm WATG and its construction will reportedly begin in 2017 thanks to Chattanooga, Tennessee based startup Branch Technology, which was responsible for initiating the Freeform Home Design Challenge. In fact, the Curve Appeal home was designed specifically to be made with Branch Technology’s Cellular Fabrication (C-Fab) 3D printing technique, which creates freeform structures that an easily be combined with other construction materials. The innovative design was a clear winning choice with its nuanced and organically inspired curved structure.
Top 3D printed housing and construction project #8: Alex Le Roux’s 3D printed Tiny House
Recently, Houston, Texas-based student Alex Le Roux made big news for his 3D printed Tiny House. What is amazing about the small building, which measures 8’x5’x7’ is that Le Roux managed to make it by himself using his very own V2 Vesta 3D printer with a build volume of 10’x10’10’. His Tiny House, which is being heralded as the United States’ first livable 3D printed structure, was funded in part by Modeco Development LLC., printed from a cement based mix sourced from Portland, Oregon and printed in only 24 hours. The question is, would you live in it?
Top 3D printed housing and construction project #9: Beijing’s 3D printed Vulcan Pavilion
Though not a house, Beijing’s amazing 3D printed Vulcan Pavilion simply had to be included on our list. The enormous structure, which measures 2.88 meters in height and spans 8.08 meters in length, currently holds the Guinness World Record for the largest 3D printed pavilion ever made. The Vulcan Pavilion’s design was inspired by the clouds created by a volcanic explosion and its organic curves and great scale do certainly work to invoke a sense of wonder. The giant 3D printed installation, which was made from over 1000 3D printed components took 30 days and 20 large scale 3D printers to make. The Vulcan Pavilion was unveiled last year for Beijing Design Week.
Top 3D printed housing and construction project #10: ORNL’s AMIE initiative
Our readers will doubtlessly recognize ORNL, also known as the Oak Ridge National Laboratory, as the organization has been responsible for a number of breakthrough advancements in the field of 3D printing technologies not least of which is their AMIE project, which consists of a sustainable 3D printed home and motorized vehicle. To design the innovative 3D printed house, ORNL partnered with architecture firm Skidmore, Owings & Merrill LLP (SOM), who conceived of a building which is made up of a number of versatile 3D printed polymer panels which occupy various functions such as insulation, exterior structure, and air and moisture barriers. The project is meant to showcase the future potentials of sustainable, off-the-grid human living with a house that can be built with little to no waste and can be powered by its accompanying vehicle.
Top 3D printed housing and construction project #11: Beijing HuaShang Tengda Industry and Trade 3D printed villa
Within China, WinSun has not been the only company to make a name for itself through 3D printed houses and construction, as Beijing-based HuaShang Tengda Industry and Trade has recently impressed with its 3D printed villa which was made in only 45 days. The large villa, which measures 400 square meters, was additively manufactured directly on site using the company’s own concrete 3D printer. This means that to build the villa, the only materials that really needed to be transported were steel beams for the reinforced structure, the 3D printer, and a cement material mixture. Additionally, according to the team responsible for the technology and the structure, their 3D printer can accommodate any standard cement, and does not require any additives, which could allow for people to source cement locally for even fewer transportation costs.
Top 3D printed housing and construction project #12: MX3D 3D printed bridge
This next project marks the 3rd Dutch-based 3D printing construction project on our list, and let us say it is certainly one for the books. For anyone who has been to Amsterdam, you’ll be familiar with its iconic and frankly quite beautiful canal bridges, which are located throughout the charming city. Well, if all goes well, the city might soon be showcasing its very first 3D printed steel bridge. The bridge, which was designed by Joris Laarman is currently being built through a collaboration between Dutch startup MX3D and construction company Heijmans using a multi-axis robot equipped with 3D printing tools. The project, which has been underway for about a year now, should be realized by 2017, when eager tourists will actually be able to walk across a 3D printed bridge.
Top 3D printed housing and construction project #13: ZhuoDa’s 3D module villas
Speaking of 3D printed villas, last year a Chinese company by the name of ZhuoDa Group amazed us with their two-story 3D module villas, which were assembled in just three hours time. Unlike HuaShang Tengda’s on site construction, however, ZhuoDa’s 3D printed villas are made almost entirely in a factory, and assembled on site through various blocks. Essentially, pre-made building block modules are shipped to the construction site, where a crane assembles them, similarly to a 3D printer. The cost and time efficient module villas were first unveiled in Xi’an City in China last July.
Top 3D printed housing and construction project #14: 3D printed concrete castle
If we told you someone had 3D printed a whole castle, would you believe it? Well it’s true, even if the castle is only 3 x 5 meters. In 2014, Minnesota-based contractor Andrey Rudenko built his very own concrete 3D printer with which he successfully created an amazing 3D printed castle right in his own backyard. Since 3D printing his own mini concrete castle, Rudenko has planned to create his very own 3D printed fantasy village, which he hopes will not only entertain guests but will introduce young architects and engineers to the possibilities of 3D printing buildings. While the 3D printed fantasy village hasn’t come to fruition quite yet, there is no denying that Rudenko has a strong vision for the future of 3D printing in construction.
Top 3D printed housing and construction project #15: Lewis Grand 3D printed hotel
Another notable project that Andrey Rudenko has signed his name onto is the Lewis Grand 3D printed hotel in the Philippines. The project, which was announced last year, was initiated by entrepreneur Lewis Yakich who is aiming to create the world’s very first 3D printed hotel. Essentially, Yakich enlisted the help of Rudenko to help with the 3D printing technology necessary for building his hotel extension. The extension, which measures 130 meters square, is destined to be used as a party spot for the hotel guests and even comes equipped with a 3D printed jacuzzi. Beyond just the hotel, however, Yakich and Rudenko are also planning on building and commercializing 3D printed homes with their novel concrete 3D printing technology.
Top 3D printed housing and construction project #16: TU Eindhoven 3D printed concrete pavilion
Another pavilion worth mentioning is the Eindhoven University of Technology’s recently unveiled 3D printed concrete pavilion. The structure, which was made with a specially designed 11 x 5 x 4 meter concrete 3D printer (itself developed by TU Eindhoven and Dutch industrial handling company ROHACO), demonstrates the plurality of 3D printing construction projects that are being undertaken around the world. The 3D printed pavilion itself is 2 meters tall and was mainly realized by a team of dedicated PhD and fourth and fifth year students. It’s fluid almost anthill like form also accurately showcases the intricate and interesting designs that can be constructed with concrete additive manufacturing technologies.
Top 3D printed housing and construction project #17: Emerging Objects’ Saltygloo and 3D printed cement pavilion
Next on our list are two projects that were brought to us by California design studio Emerging Objects, who really never fail to impress. The first, which was developed in 2014, is a truly remarkable project as Emerging Objects designed a house 3D printed out of an innovative salt-based material called Saltygloo. While the house itself was not fully realized, the design team still impressed with its full size prototypes of 3D printed Saltygloo structures, which were notable for their amazing transluscent qualities. In 2015, Emerging Objects came out with another 3D printed construction project which wowed us equally: a 9 foot tall (2.74 meters) concrete pavilion named Bloom. The pavilion is slightly different from other 3D printed concrete structures we’ve seen, however, as it was constructed out of 840 individually 3D printed blocks. Evoking a blooming flower, the impressive pavilion was printed out of an iron oxide-free cement-polymer composite and was unveiled in March of last year in Berkeley, California.
Top 3D printed housing and construction project #18: Digital Grotesque 3D printed room
In 2013, architects Benjamin Dillenburger and Michael Hansmeyer unveiled their plans to build Digital Grotesque, a 3D printed room made up of over 260 million different and intricately designed surfaces. The room, which was completed some months later impressed its visitors with its algorithmically generated designs and its sheer size (measuring 3.2 meters tall and16 square meters). Digital Grotesque was 3D printed from sandstone and was coated with pigment, alcohol and shellac for optimal strength and a pristine finished look. A 1:3 prototype of the room was also made and presented at the Materializing Exhibition in Tokyo and Swiss Art Awards 2013 in Basel, Switzerland, which was made using a VoxelJet 3D printer.
Top 3D printed housing and construction project #19: Echoriven 3D printed architectural sculpture
Another stunning 3D printed construction project from 2013 was Echoriven, which boasts being the world’s first full-scale 3D printed architectural installation. Designed and built by Smith|Allen Studio, Echoriven was printed in separate parts on Type A Machines’ Series 1 3D printers and was assembled by hand on site in the middle of a 150-acre redwood forest in Mendocino County, California. The impressive installation is a white, almost bark-like enclosure with an ethereal translucent quality that measures 10 x 10 x 8 feet. Printed out of a PLA bio plastic material, the installation will eventually biodegrade back into the forest over the course of the next 30 to 50 years.
Top 3D printed housing and construction project #20: Hadrian brick laying 3D printer
Last but definitely not least on our list is not actually a 3D printed structure, but rather an especially promising 3D printing construction technology: Fastbrick Robotics’s Hadrian brick laying 3D printer. Australian based Fastbrick Robotics is making some serious headway in the field of construction with its innovative and extremely efficient brick laying robot, the Hadrian 105, which can lay about 225 bricks an hour in a pattern determined by a laser guide system. What’s more, the company is already developing the second generation of its robotic system, the Hadrian X, which will be capable of laying 1,000 bricks per hour, more than double what a human bricklayer could achieve in a day. The brick-laying 3D printer has also been designed to work from the back of a truck, so it can be easily brought onto construction sites for on-site building. The Hadrian X is expected to hit the market within the next year.
Top 3D printed housing and construction project #21: China’s seven meter tall replica of Beijing’s famed Temple of Heaven
Of course, we have to mention Qingdao Unique Co., Ltd’s gigantic 3D printer designed for constructing houses. The huge 3D printer, which was unveiled by the Chinese company in 2014, has an impressive build volume of 12m x 12 x 12m and apparently weighs an astounding 120 tons (about 24 elephants!). The massive printer, which was installed in Qingdao, was designed to print with a novel graphene glass fiber reinforced plastic material, which offers a lightweight, strong, corrosion-resistant, and eco-friendly building material. At the time of the printer’s unveiling, Qingdao Unique Co., Ltd planned to use the large machine to construct a seven meter tall replica of Beijing’s famed Temple of Heaven. Though the structure may never have been completed, Qinddao Unique’s giant 3D printer still stands as being one of the largest FDM printers ever made.
Top 3D printed housing and construction project #22: 3D printed Winterfell tower
Game of Thrones fans are sure to get a kick out of this upcoming project, as a cement plant in Russia has decided it will 3D print a 6 meter tall replica of one of Winterfell’s iconic towers. The project was inspired in part by the series and in part by WinSun China’s existing 3D printed structures. In fact, Rinat Brylin, the director general of the cement plant located in Ekaterinburg, said he visited WinSun’s construction site and wanted to create his own, improved method to 3D print cement –there’s nothing like a bit of competition to get innovation going! The Game of Thrones tower construction is currently underway, as Brylin’s large cement 3D printer, operated through a robotic arm and measuring 8 x 8 x 4 meters can print about 50 cm of cement a day. Brylin and his small team are working continually on improving their method and hope to eventually be able to build an entire house in three days for under $10,000.
Top 3D printed housing and construction project #23: 3D printed public toilets
If you thought WinSun China’s 3D printed apartment blocks and villas were impressive, their most recent structure is sure to flush you away! The Chinese 3D printing company very recently unveiled what is being heralded as China’s first fully 3D printed public toilets at the Da Yang Mountain in Suzhou, China. Yes, you heard me, fully 3D printed. From the underground infrastructure, to the interior and exterior of the building, and even to the decorative elements, WinSun has constructed every bit of the facility with their 3D printing technology. The components for the public toilets were all additively manufactured in WinSun’s factory and were then transported and assembled on site—a feat which only required one crane and four workers to complete.
If you’re wondering why the innovative construction company ended up making a public bathroom for the Da Yang Mountain region, it was part of China’s National Tourism Bureau’s effort to improve its existing public toilets, especially in tourist areas. So while visitors to the Da Yang Mountain region might still cringe at the thought of using a public toilet, at least they’ll have the consolation of using one of the world’s most unique facilities!
Top 3D printed housing and construction project #24: 3D printed Suzhou-style Chinese courtyard
3D printing construction company WinSun China recently unveiled two more completed Chinese courtyard style villas made with their novel 3D printing technique in Binzhou City in Shandong Province. The 3D printed homes are fully equipped with all necessary amenities (including air conditioning) and meet China’s home building requirements.
The two villas, which were inspired by China’s classical Gardens of Suzhou, were impressively built within only two months time and cost only 5,000 yuan per square meter (about $750/square meter). As mentioned, the two buildings were 3D printed out of a special concrete “ink” using WinSun’s massive 3D printer, which measures 150 meters in length, 20 meters in width, and 6 meters in height.
Top 3D printed housing and construction project #25: Europe’s first 3m tall 3D printed pavilion
Last week Europe’s first 3D printed concrete pavilion was unveiled on the Dassault Systèmes Campus in Vélizy, France. The Pavilion, which was created on behalf of the Ile-de-France regional authority, was realized in collaboration with XtreeE, Dassault Systèmes, ABB, and LarfargeHolcim. The 3D printed Pavilion was built using robotics company ABB’s industrial IRB8700 robot, and was made out of one of LafargeHolcim’s new experimental 3D printing concrete materials, Ultra-High Performance Concrete Ductal. The 3D Pavilion’s design, which was inspired by organic shapes, was conceived of by XtreeE and was worked on and optimized using Dassault Systèmes’ innovative 3D simulation technology, which allowed for advanced structural analysis, and topographical optimization.
More than just showcasing the capabilities of 3D printing construction, the 3D printed Pavilion effectively demonstrates the potentials and future of sustainable architecture and construction. That is, by using digital design technologies, the companies involved were able to create an optimized building design, meaning that the walls are not solid but are 3D printed with a complex support structure inside them to both maximize strength and reduce material consumption.
The whole 3D printing process took only 20 hours to complete. Not only was the Pavilion itself 3D printed, but each of its small scale prototypes was also additively manufactured using equipment from Dassault’s FabLab. Once completed, the three-meter tall 3D Pavilion was transported to the Dassault Systèmes Campus where it was celebrated with a ribbon cutting ceremony.
Top 3D printed housing and construction project #26: Europe’s first zero-footprint 3D printed building
The luxurious Dutch Hotel De Slaapfabriek from Teuge is planning to build a unique, 3D printed and zero-footprint conference location that provides a highly inspiring and modern environment. Construction is scheduled to kick off in July 2017, and could be completed in as little as ten days. If successful, it could pave the way for a new environmentally-friendly construction 3D printing paradigm.
The concept for the structure was worked out during the Dutch Construction Hackathon in May 2016. Bouwend en Innovatief Nederland designed a truly modern and inspiring concept: an iconic structure that provides an adaptive and high-tech environment to trainers, coaches and management teams, which is sustainable and clean at the same time.
The design takes full advantage of the manufacturing freedom of 3D printing, and various construction partners and the local municipality are all onboard with the plan. The interior will be as modern as it can be, featuring innovative video content that can set up various ‘moods’ throughout the building. Together with sound and smell effects, a unique and programmable environment is created.
Owners Marjo and Arvid are further planning to keep construction energy neutral and to 3D print with recycled waste materials. If successful, this will become the first 3D printed zero-footprint structure in Europe. If all things go according to plan, the 90m2 boardroom-level structure will be 3D printed over the course of ten days.
Top 3D printed housing and construction project #27: 3D Printed Urban Cabin and accompanying bathtub
DUS Architects has 3D printed an extraordinary cabin in Amsterdam, complete with a bathtub, and is now taking guests for overnight stays. The bathtub is outside, though, which could present a problem for shy types.
The 3D printed cabin measures 8 m2 and with a volume of 25 m3, so it’s compact and easily printed. The walls have an unusual geometric wall construction with an internal honeycomb construction that provides structural integrity without having to create a frame. That means that with a 3D printer in place these shelters could be quick to build.
The whole structure is built from bioplastic, too, which means it’s easy to recycle. The plastic can be turned into a new 3D printing filament or simply destroyed in situ, so this is a potentially invaluable solution when disaster strikes in remote areas. A serious clean-up operation would present major logistical issues on their own in some areas of the world.
It’s black thanks to the Linseed Oil-based bioplastic that the architect had a hand in developing. It is working with manufacturing concern Henkel to perfect the plastic. It has to be strong, biodegradable and also easy to 3D print. This is a complex set of criteria and the testing phase is far from over.
The cabin is part of a larger discussion on sustainable, affordable housing in urban centers and DUS has an ongoing project called 3D Print Living It. Many cities around the world are facing a housing shortage and short-term solutions like this could be an elegant way of dealing with the problem. That could give city planners time to figure out how to accommodate an ever increasing population.
There you have it, our top 27 3D printing construction projects from the last few years. We’re sure that the next time we make a list of this type, even more innovative, beautiful, and groundbreaking 3D printed construction and architecture projects will have been realized – we really can’t wait to see what’s next!
Posted in 3D Printing Application
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