The construction sector has always been very close to the heart of the Belgian BESIX Group and forms the company’s core activities. In recent years, the construction sector has been working hard on catching up with regard to digitization and innovative tools. This technological progress is mainly in the design and design of buildings and structures. By introducing 3D concrete printing via a KUKA KR QUANTEC robot, BESIX Group has now been taking the next steps towards a digital implementation of projects.
Construction 3D printing is still in a very early phase of its evolution however growth has been very fast. Several dozen construction companies around the world have already adopted a construction 3D printing solution – whether cartesian extrusion or robotic-arm extrusion based – with many new applications emerging every day. SmarTech Publishing (with its 2017 report) and 3D Printing Media Network (with its AM Focus and dedicated category) were among the very first entities to cover this segment extensively.
Founded in 1909, the Belgian company is mainly active in the construction, real estate development and concession sector. Over the years, the group has experienced tremendous growth and gained a great deal of know-how and experience. Among other things, this has ensured that the company has evolved from a construction partner into a company that can offer a full-service package. This allows BESIX Group to handle any project, regardless of size, and this includes financing and design to construction and maintenance. In recent years the company has mainly focused on the diversification of its activities, both geographically and sectorally.
More possibilities with 3D concrete printing
Thanks to 3D concrete print applications from BESIX Group, the freedom of form in the design phase is enormously increased so that a wider range of possible solutions can be proposed to customers automatically. As a result, customers are no longer bound by standard designs. Because the model is 3D printed with a KUKA robot, it is also possible to always create exactly the same product with less waste and this at a much higher speed. As a result, BESIX Group also increases production capacity, all in a much safer, controlled working environment.
BESIX Group first models all elements itself via the 3D software Revit and Grasshopper. This software will then control the KUKA KR 120 R3900 robot. A nozzle is attached to this robot for 3D concrete printing. Because BESIX Group performs 3D concrete printing with a KUKA industrial robot arm, they can print an object on average between 30 minutes to 1 hour . For example, the 2 m architectural column (see image) is printed in less than 1 hour.
Innovation through a robotic partnership
Because 3D concrete printing with an industrial robot arm was also something new for them, it was important to find a reliable partner who was willing to think along. KUKA and BESIX Group jointly examined the application and went through and discussed the possible steps in this process. Thanks to this intensive qualitative cooperation, BESIX Group has succeeded in developing and executing a successful, innovative robot application. Due to the great success of 3D concrete printing with a KUKA robot, BESIX Group is now considering to expand its production facility in Dubai or a similar setup in Belgium or the Netherlands. The company reports high satisfaction with the choice of using a KUKA KR 120 R3900 robot for this application. The BESIX Group construction 3D printing story has only just begun – as has the construction 3D printing segment as a whole – and we will hear a lot about this in the future.