On January 15, 2019, Weber Beamix opened Europe’s first commercial, industrial production site for 3D printing of concrete elements for construction in Eindhoven. Today, production is in full swing. Various components are being printed and fielded. There is even a second permanent production facility in Europe, a mobile factory for rental and a fixed product portfolio including custom-made slope stairs.
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According to Pieter Bakker, 3D printing of concrete mortar makes individual serial production possible. This creates a huge increase in design freedom. Pieter: “The magic word is smarter construction, including parametric design. This is a process in which models or designs are automatically generated based on parameters, such as dimensions, material thickness or geometry. The print robot can vary endlessly based on different parameters. For example, you can give all the columns of a bridge or viaduct a different shape. Moreover, the printer only lays concrete where it is needed for structural strength. We therefore achieve savings of 30 to 40 percent. Formwork is also no longer needed, so there is also no waste.”
The printed elements for the outflow basin on transport.
Furthermore, according to Pieter, the whole process is faster and the margin of error decreases. During the design process, everyone is looking at the same design. Changes are immediately calculated and applied digitally. “You press ‘Ctrl+P’ at the end, so to speak, and the printer immediately starts production. For the construction site, the most important thing is that less time is needed on site, so also less man hours. This means faster, but also safer work, and construction becomes more attractive to young people through automation and robotisation. Another advantage is that you need fewer people on the construction site, which is important in these times of scarcity of skilled workers.”
Pieter Bakker concludes, “I am convinced that 3D concrete printing is claiming its place in the market. The technology is no longer in its infancy, but we also really have plenty of challenges ahead of us.”
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