The Dutch construction 3D printing tradition – which began as a large-scale experiment with the 3D Printed Canal House in 2013 – is living on through Aectual. The Amsterdam-based technology company launched a sustainably produced 3D printed floor with terrazzo infill at the latest Dutch Design Week. Aectuals’ smart manufacturing technology makes it possible to custom 3D print any design on large surfaces, where each square meter is unique. It’s not going to make a 3D printed airport floor.
“We make it possible to create custom own design for spectacular floors in, for example, a hotel lobby, or for a striking retail brand,” says Hans Vermeulen, CEO of Aectual. “This gives designers complete design freedom”.
Clients can also choose from a selection of special patterns, which are customized entirely to their building. Unique details can easily be added to emphasize special areas, branding and routing.
As co-founder of DUS Architect, the leading company behind the 3D Printed Canal House project, Vermaelen always stressed the idea that the best way to learn is by doing. Building this approach, the company has shifted from using plastics, as the main construction material, to composites and foams. Now, as 3D printing for cement construction has been literally taking off, Vermaelen’s new company is targeting a more concrete and market-ready 3D printed product.
Aectual’s ‘on demand floor’ is made possible by their in-house developed software tools and the industrial XL 3D print technology, which was also developed starting with the Canal House experience with the 3D printing of large structures. This brings the client an easy, affordable and reliable design and production process, and also reduces the installation period.
The floors consist of 3D printed patterns that are installed seamlessly on site and are finished with a bio-binder terrazzo. There is a wide range of color options and fillings, the floors are high quality, and wear resistant. An important feature is that they are produced in a sustainable manner, using a bio-print plastic and recycled materials. Clients include international museums, hotels and department stores. After launching in Tokyo at the Loft Flagship store, the first floor in the Netherlands will be installed mid-November, at Amsterdam Schiphol Airport.
As new material and finishes continue to improve, designers are increasingly able to leverage robotic, additive manufacturing technologies to produce high-quality design products. In terms of end-use consumer products, the trend we are seeing more and more is the use of 3D printers to make real size objects. The first to think in these terms were companies like BigRep and DUS architects, who are now beginning to reap the fruits of their research and hard work.
During the Dutch Design Week, Aectual presented its unique digital production process, and a selection of floor patterns, including the design for the Schiphol floor by architecture firm DUS. The company celebrated the official launch with the ‘Democratizing Design Debate’ in which several well-known architects and designers of DDW, like Winy Maas from MVRDV, Jelle Feringa from Aectual, former Odico and Borre Akkersdijk from ByBorre spoke to the audience about the influence of digital technology on design.