3d printers

Mexican Cemex and Danish Cobod team up to develop residential construction with 3D printers

By Anthony Harup

MEXICO CITY — Mexican cement maker Cemex SAB has teamed up with Danish construction technology company Cobod to encourage 3D printing of homes using an innovation the companies say will make building homes with robots cheaper and easier. more accessible.

Monterrey-based Cemex has developed additives for conventional ready-mixed concrete for use in 3D printers manufactured by Cobod. The mix allows builders to print homes anywhere using locally available concrete.

“There has always been a lot of promise around 3D printing concrete, but it still hasn’t materialized in many places, and one of the limitations has been the high cost of materials,” said the founder and managing director of Cobod, Henrik Lund-Nielsen. .

Existing printing technologies use mortars, which are more cement intensive than ready mix, are more expensive and less available.

“With this solution, where the material returns to the normal price of concrete, we can use the full potential of 3D printing concrete,” said Lund-Nielsen.

That’s a boon for countries like Angola, where construction start-up Power2Build pioneered the method and wants to harness the technology to help close the country’s housing deficit of around 1.8 million dwellings out of a population of around 33 million.

“We have been trying for a few years to find a way to build housing in a faster and cheaper way because in Africa, and in Angola in particular, housing is facing a major crisis in the number of units,” the director said. from Power2Build. said executive Ricardo Almeida.

Although rich in natural resources such as oil and diamonds, Angola ranks among the poorest countries in the world. Migration to the capital Luanda is exacerbating the housing shortage in and around the city.

“There is no way to build infrastructure fast enough for the influx of people from the interior of the country,” Almeida said.

The savings in time, labor costs and waste make the idea of ​​3D printing houses attractive, although industrialized use of the technologies has been limited. Texas-based building technology company Icon has partnered with homebuilder Lennar Corp. on a 100-home 3D printing project near Austin, Texas, the first project on such a scale in the United States

Cemex, one of the world’s largest building materials companies, hopes the use of its additives will increase adoption of 3D printing in the home, including in markets where it does not sell cement or cement. concrete like Angola.

“What we see is that we will finally industrialize it and make it more accessible with this important breakthrough,” said Davide Zampini, head of research and development at Cemex.

Power2Build has printed a small prototype social level house of approximately 570 square feet and plans to build more to meet the needs of middle-class buyers. He is in negotiations with a number of potential customers to use the technology for larger projects.

Cobod’s 3D printers use a gantry, a crane-like structure on which a suspended nozzle for pouring concrete can move in three directions. It can build up to three stories from its placement on the ground, with concrete of various widths and thicknesses laid in layers.

“It’s not rocket science, it’s very easy to use,” Mr Almeida said. “If it can work in Angola, I believe it can work anywhere else in the world.”

Write to Anthony Harrup at [email protected]