US-based Pikus Concrete is teaming up with Sika to commercialize 3D concrete printing technology in the construction industry and to capture its vast potential. Pikus’ first 3D concrete printer with Sika technology has commenced operation in Lehi, Utah. The company is working on implementing the technology in the first construction projects. This marks the first time a construction 3D printing deal involves two well-established commercial construction companies. Previous projects have generally involved at least one startup or government investment entity.
Sika’s entire know-how in digitalization and industrialization of concrete construction, built over decades, has been brought together in its 3D printing technology. The expertise ranges from robotics, process control system, and extruding system, to concrete technology and mix design and formulation of 3D mortars to allow for precise control of how the concrete behaves. Sika is the only company capable of supplying all the technologies required for industrial 3D concrete printing from a single source.
Increased speed in construction
One key advantage Pikus sees is the increased speed of a project build, as building and dismantling of formwork is no longer necessary. “We will be able to print our structural elements before a job even starts and ship them to the site when needed. Depending on the complexity of the structural element, this could save months of construction time and a lot of costs on a larger project”, said Rob Pikus, owner of the Pikus Concrete.
Pikus is convinced of the technology and its market potential. “Right now we have invested over USD 3 million in this project. This includes a new building to accommodate the large 3D printer, the actual printer and the labor to get the process started.” Pikus intends to invest heavily in the coming years to reach their goal of 20 printers around the US by mid-2024.
A broad range of applications
“We undertook a lot of research to find the best 3D concrete printing technology. During a European tour, we met with Sika’s experts who explained their technologies and showed us an impressive live demonstration of the printer.” This was really the turning point for Pikus. “We knew we needed Sika’s expertise to put this process into practice,” he concluded.
3D concrete printing allows architects to realize the most challenging shapes. Dynamic curves and futuristic interlinked structures can be printed directly and efficiently from digital plans. The strategy of Pikus is now to define areas where 3D printing will be most beneficial to the industry. Rob Pikus: “We see a huge opportunity in printing items that are difficult or very expensive to form. This will help bridge the gap between architectural and structural elements.”