Construction 3D printing using cement materials has been at the center of a few experiments in recent years. Commercial applications have been centered mainly in China, Russia and wealthy Middle East nations such as Saudi Arabia and the UAE. In Europe most activities are University-based, with advanced projects at Iaac in Barcelona and ETH in Zurich. One commercial project is now close to being completed in Denmark, and another one is now getting underway in the Netherlands: the 3D printed hotel building by De Vergaderfabriek.
This is an initiative launched by De Slaapfabriek in Teuge (small business) and Centre4moods (startup). The hotel and meeting facility will be constructed using 3D printing technology and will be the first of its kind in Europe. Compared with traditional building methods, this revolutionary and highly sustainable approach generates 40% less CO₂ and 70% less waste. The project is being managed by Hugo Jager of Revelating, a consultancy that specializes in 3D printing concepts.
During The Dutch Construction Hackathon at the Dome-X co-creation studio in May 2016, construction printing pioneer CyBe Construction and The Form Foundation architectural firm became acquainted with the initiators of De Vergaderfabriek. This formed the basis of the consortium that will be responsible for the construction.
The consortium consists of leading players in the Dutch 3D printing and construction industry: The Form Foundation, Witteveen+Bos, CyBe, Van Wijnen, ENGIE, Revelating, Elma Media, Lexence Advocaten, De Slaapfabriek/De Vergaderfabriek/De Beleeffabriek and Centre4moods. The initiative is supported by the municipality of Voorst, Eindhoven University of Technology (TU/e) and the Cleantech Region regional alliance for clean technology. Preparatory work is now underway.
The main construction work, which started in December 2017, will continue through Q1 2018. Early Dutch construction projects using 3D printing had focused on the use of plastics. While projects such as the Canal House by DUS Architect – ongoing since 2014 – did help to raise awareness and provide valuable lessons (most recently on 3D printed flooring), the recent growth of 3D printing technologies able to use cement materials seems to indicate this is as the ideal way forward for 3D printed buildings.
Cement construction 3D printing technologies have demonstrated a number of benefits over traditional construction processes, including less material waste, faster production times and the ability to use low-cost, recycled cement mixtures. With the actual cement construction phase expected to take around 10 days, the 3D printed hotel project by De Vergaderfabriek is likely to result in a much faster final outcome.