Singapore housing board to trial concrete 3D printing at new estates

HDB will use a concrete 3D printer to produce landscape furniture and other architectural details

Singapore’s Housing and Development Board (HDB) is reportedly preparing to introduce 3D printed landscape furniture and architectural elements to new estates being built in Tengah and Bidadari. The announcement, reported by The Straits Times, suggests that Singapore’s Housing Board is interested in exploring the potential of 3D printing not just for design or furniture elements but also for construction applications.

In the short-term, the HDB will utilize one of the largest (if not the largest) 3D printers in South East Asia to construct landscape furniture and architectural details—like benches, customized sun and rain screens, 3D artwork panels, thematic pavilions and more. These elements will be integrated into two new housing estates: one in Bidadari which is expected to be livable by 2022 and one in Tengah, which is expected to be completed in 2023.

The 3D printer in question, which works by depositing a concrete-based material, has a build capacity of 9 x 3.5 x 3.8 meters and is installed at the HDB Centre of Building Research in Woodlands. The expansive construction 3D printer reportedly cost about $900,000 to purchase and install.

Last month, the 3D printer successfully printed a room spanning 3.6 x 3 x 2.75 meters within just 13 hours. The project also consisted of manually inserting steel reinforcement bars, windows and a door—which took six days in total to print and build. Using a more traditional precast approach, it would have taken over two months to build a room of similar proportions.

Singapore’s HDB hopes that in the future, construction 3D printing can be employed to drastically reduce construction times for entire buildings—and even high-rises. Currently, the housing board is investigating whether 3D printed buildings are a viable solution for Singapore and its climate.

If it proves to be an option, 3D printing could also unlock exciting new opportunities for architectural designs and creativity.

“The use of 3D concrete printing has opened up new and exciting possibilities for the future of construction,” said Heru Soedarsono, Deputy Director of Building Design and Precast System at HDB. “Architects and designers would have more free play in their designs, greater flexibility, and since the printing process is highly automated, that reduces the dependency on manual labour.”

HDB is responsible for providing housing to about 80% of Singapore’s residents and has high hopes that additive manufacturing will enable it to transform the nation’s current construction industry, which relies heavily on foreign labor. Though construction 3D printing is still very much in its research stage within Singapore (and elsewhere), taking small steps, such as introducing 3D printed furniture or décor, will prove useful in pushing it forward.

[Source: The Straits Times]
Tess Boissonneault

Tess Boissonneault moved from her home of Montreal, Canada to the Netherlands in 2014 to pursue a master’s degree in Media Studies at the University of Amsterdam. It was during her time in Amsterdam that she became acquainted with 3D printing technology and began writing for a local additive manufacturing news platform. Now based in France, Tess has over two and a half years experience writing, editing and publishing additive manufacturing content with a particular interest in women working within the industry. She is an avid follower of the ever-evolving AM industry.

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