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Black Buffalo, MAPEI Collaborate on 3D Printing Construction Ink

Black Buffalo 3D Black Buffalo 3D printing
Planit 3D, a cement-based construction ink/mortar, was developed after years of testing and research.

Black Buffalo 3D, which unveiled its NEXCON 1G 3D concrete printer during the International Builders’ Show in February, announced a collaboration with building materials manufacturer MAPEI to produce Planitop 3D construction ink.

Planitop 3D cement-based construction ink/mortar is designed to work with NEXCON 3D construction printers and was developed through years of research and testing by Black Buffalo 3D, MAPEI, and third-party labs. The ready-mix material is distributed by MAPEI throughout North America and is delivered in 3,000-pound supersacks.

The companies say the ink/mortar is designed to increase efficiency and to quickly set up and support the layers above.

"The Black Buffalo 3D team recognized the need for standardization in materials to drive the next phase of growth in the 3D construction industry,” Michael Woods, CEO/COO of Big Sun Holdings, Black Buffalo 3D’s parent corporation, said in a statement. “MAPEI was able to enhance the formula our team developed and take it to the next level, outclassing every product on the market – that makes 3D printing homes, buildings and infrastructure financially feasible on nearly every level.”

Black Buffalo 3D told World of Concrete 360 that Planitop 3D was developed to be used in many climate regions with a focus on North America and meeting the criteria for ICC-ES AC-509. "We tested it in many different climate conditions, and it performed well under a wide range of temperatures/humidity swings," said Peter Cooperman, head of marketing and strategy. "It is also the only formula to be tested to the only building standard for 3D construction in the world. The materials used in the mix were picked based on being available worldwide so it can be available globally by working with Mapei or if they don't have a production facility, other local manufacturers."

Cooperman said Planitop 3D is the basis for all of its clients' projects for the foreseeable future, including a 200-home community that Alquist will be building in Pulaski, Va., using NEXCON 1G printers.

"The key to advancement and adoption of any new technology is standardization," Cooperman said. "The team at Black Buffalo 3D recognized that the end printed product is the result of machine, materials, and man working well together. We spent millions of dollars and countless hours getting this formula right so that our clients have a lab-verified approach to building/printing with 3D construction printers."

Structures printed with the NEXCON 1G printer give builders a 70% reduction in materials costs, almost zero waste, and up to an 80% reduction in labor costs and build time.  

Across the country and around the world, more and more design and building teams are trying out the technology. For example, in December, Alquist completed Habitat for Humanity's first 3D printed house, a three-bed/two-bath 1,200-square-foot home in Williamsburg, Va., using a COBOD BOD 2 3D printer. PERI worked with Habitat for Humanity Central Arizona on its first 3D-printed home in the U.S., also using COBOD's BOD 2 unit. SQ4D recently sold a home that had been 3D printed on the company's Autonomous Robotic Construction System. Lennar, the country's second-largest home builder, announced a 100-home community in Austin, Texas, that will be built using ICON’s Vulcan 3D printing system. 

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