Speed is one of the key factors behind the meteoric rise of 3D printing in construction.
Philip Lund-Nielsen, cofounder of the Dutch 3D-printing company known as COBOD, said advancements in the speed at which 3D construction can be performed have increased exponentially. Over three years, he said, the company was able to increase the speed of its process to an impressive degree. Using 20 tons of concrete, a 3D-printed house that took two months to build in 2019 took only three days to build three years later.
What's repsonsible for quicker project completion times?
“So that’s an improvement of 20 times from the first to the second project,” Lund-Nielsen said. “Now imagine if we did that a third time, a fourth time and then a 10th time. How quickly could we actually do it in the end?” Improvements in technology, the ability of trained operators to run the 3D-printing machines and how the concrete itself is mixed are all responsible for this increased speed.
Lund-Nielsen offered COBOD’s printing of the base of a wind-turbine tower as another example of the technology’s marked improvement over a short period of time . He said the turbine base used about 100 tons of concrete and was 33 feet tall.
“It took three weeks to print,” he said. “We decided to redo the whole thing again. How long did it take? It took three days.” Lund-Nielsen said there has been an “immense increase in efficiency from going from the first project to the next.”
He said that COBOD, which demonstrated their machines at the World of Concrete show in 2022, hears the same feedback from customers who use their machines around the world. "They do one project and go to the next, and then they see these efficiency gains,” Lund-Nielsen said.
Recent moves by COBOD
COBOD’s stated mission is to “disrupt the global construction industry” with multifunctional robots that are based on 3D-printing systems. The company is one of several major players in the 3D-construction market, which includes names like Black Buffalo 3D and Icon, which has the Vulcan 3D printer.
Recently, cement producer Cemex announced a sizable investment in COBOD.
“I am proud to have Cemex, a global leader in the building materials industry, join us as an investor along with our other shareholders PERI and GE Renewable Energy,” said Henrik Lund-Nielsen, founder and general manager of COBOD. “Cemex is already an important partner to us. Together, we have already improved 3D construction printing tremendously with the successful D.fab solution, and we intend to continue to develop new, innovative materials to build a better future through material solutions for 3D-printing applications that significantly reduce construction costs and time.”