Science & Technology

Europe’s first one-piece concrete home printed in Belgium

By Javier Albisu

Westerlo, Belgium, Jul 14 (efe-epa).- Europe’s first one-piece concrete home has been built using a 3D-printer in Belgium.

The concrete structure was erected in just 15 days on the premises of Kamp C, a Flemish expertise centre focused on developing sustainable technologies.

“The biggest benefit of it all is that you have no form limits. So when you can think out of the box and when you have a really creative mind you can really think of all the forms that exist in the world, organic forms, that, I think is the biggest advantage of all. That you can print really organic forms without making a very complex framework before doing it,” Engineer and Project Manager Marijke Aerts tells Efe.

“It is faster but it takes you a little bit longer to design and afterwards it is a machine doing the rest of the work,” she adds.

The prototype consists of a 9.9 metres high cube with 90 habitable square metres spread over two floors.

The home has been printed using 60 tons of concrete on a campus near a residential area of ??the municipality of Westerlo, in the Flemish region in northern Belgium.

The project started in 2017 and the construction of the prototype has required six months of design and preliminary tests before delving into the production phase.

To build the unique house, a COBOD construction printer was used. The modular machine is made up of 10-metre-high columns with a printer head in the middle which adds layers of cement to the construction site much like piping buttercream onto a cupcake.

For the project, Kamp C and the province of Antwerp received a $755,000 grant from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF)’s European C3PO Project and closely collaborated with a team of architects and construction firms, a construction materials provider and students from Thomas More University of applied sciences.

The printed home was never designed for being used and was conceived as a technological showcase that will be open for public viewing in July and August.

“We are not planning to print more houses and certainly not over here but we are planning the next experience with other companies to try out the printer. So we are going to replace them on another spot here at Kamp C and then we will try and test some other things with it and see if we can use other materials in the printer, see if we can add all kinds of things to the materials. We want to try what are the possibilities, what are the limits but we are not planning to build another house,” Aerts adds.

Although the pilot project has proven expensive, Kamp C experts are hoping to optimize and scale up the processes.

Eventually, the “technique will be cheaper than the classical way of building because we don’t need so many workers on site, we don’t need as much transportation of materials,” Aerts says.

Installing the printer in the desired location takes a day and once the device is up and running, no bricklayer is needed, although it is necessary for a person to start and stop the machine, supervise the development of the work on a computer and clean the entire facility.

The technological possibilities are as wide-ranging as the creativity of designers.

“You can design a house for a really special spot and of course there you can use the right material to build it and the trite technique over there. So a house in Spain could be totally different than a house in northern Finland and it can have a different structure and different goals and all that,” the engineer concludes. EFE-EPA


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