Cobod International giving a demo print in Dubai

Cobod International giving a demo print in Dubai

3D concrete printers in UAE

3D printing construction company Cobod International and 3DVinci Creations have signed an agreement, enabling the latter to bring the Cobod gantry-based 3D concrete printers to the UAE, writes ABDULAZIZ KHATTAK

March 2019

It was for the first time in Dubai that a gantry 3D construction printer was actually printing concrete structures in the city.

The project was done by Cobod International, a 3D construction printing company owned by Danish company 3D Group and German Peri Group. It used the same printer to 3D print the first fully permitted 3D printed building in Europe living up to all the EU’s strict building codes.

The Dubai event also marks the signing of a distributorship agreement between Cobod and 3DVinci Creations, enabling the latter to bring the Cobod gantry-based 3D concrete printers to the UAE.

3DVinci Creations is a provider of affordable and accessible 3D printing technologies with its headquarters in Dubai.

This aim of the partnership is to further push 3D concrete printing in Dubai and help attain the monumental milestone of constructing 25 per cent of all new buildings in Dubai with 3D printing technologies by the year 2030.

According to Henrik Lund-Nielsen, CEO and co-founder of Cobod, the purpose of installing a gantry 3D concrete printer was to allow the local market to explore and experience firsthand the potential of this disruptive technology. The printer currently showcased by Cobod in Dubai is its first generation BOD1 printer. The company’s latest printer is the BOD2.

The BOD1 printer in action in Dubai

The BOD1 printer in action in Dubai

Asger Dath, head of communication for Cobod International, said BOD2 is the fastest 3D construction printer on the market with a print speed up to 1,000 mm/s (3.6 cu m concrete per hour). It has rotating printhead for smooth walls, uses open material (you can buy materials locally) and is modular to fit a project of any size.

Edouard Baaklini, CEO of 3DVinci Creations, said the distributorship agreement with Cobod will enable them to provide cost-effective and fast 3D concrete printing solutions that will address the housing and construction needs in the UAE.

“This agreement is an opportunity to bring quality 3D concrete printing closer to users in the region in order to reap the benefits it brings to the local market in terms of reduced labour costs, reduced material waste, sustainable eco-friendly construction, reduced carbon emission, improved design capabilities, and reduced duration of construction,” Baaklini said.

Dath said 3D printing is catching up globally. “Right now it’s mostly cement and concrete production companies and universities that are exploring 3D construction printing technology. But it is rapidly spreading to larger building projects of, for example, 400-100 houses in countries with housing shortage.”

He said 3D printing is very cost-effective. According to a recent Deloitte study regarding the benefits of implementing 3D printing in construction, it is faster as it offers 50 to70 per cent reduction in consecution time based on increased automation. It is also cheaper due to the fact that it incurs 50 to 80 per cent lower labour costs, produces less wastage material, and potentially lower financing costs due to shorter execution time.

3D printing is also better than traditional methods due to the ability to create customized and intricate design, inbuilt insulation in 3D printed walls and higher sustainability footprint due the use of recycled water as part of the raw material and concrete.

The speed of 3D printers has increased considerable, said Dath, citing the BOD, which prints at a speed of 50-100 mm/s, while the new printers have a speed of up to 1,000 mm/s.

But he said the slow speed very much depends on how you compare the building process. “With the numbers we have, we can print multiple house per day, with less manpower than traditional construction,” Dath added.

But Dath said the strength of 3D printing is its freedom of design. “We are not locked on straight walls. We have the freedom of design, to create customised houses without complicaitons. Lower cost and with more recycled material.”

Of the earliest milestones achieved in the 3D printing segment was developing a test printer; demonstrating the technology by printing The Bod, Europe’s first 3D printer building (in Copenhagen’s Nordhavn area); and developing the first second generation construction printer, BOD2, said Dath.

He said Cobod is partnering with Peri Group to produce and sell the BOD2. In fact, the first BOD2 was shipped to Kamp C last month.

Similarly, other companies have been successful in printing the first bridges and buildings using 3D construction printing.

About the apprehensions of the strength of the finished product and if additional reinforcement is required, Dath said it depends on the design. The finishing is similar to that of traditional houses, but sometimes the wish is to leave the bare concrete structure as it is.

He said 3D printing can be done under the open sky, if needed, but it is recommend to print under a tent to shelter the project from rain while the material dries. However, the printer itself is weatherproof.

Commenting on the advantage 3D printing can offer to the Gulf region, he said it is lower cost and faster production. But he added the Gulf region is pushing the technology and is, therefore, one of the frontrunner in the use of 3D printing in construction.

Cobod late last year received a grant for developing the next generation 3D construction printer, which is planned to be ready in 2021 and will be used for 3D printing a new demonstration building in Denmark designed by internationally recognised architect Bjarke Ingels’, BIG Architects.

The grant is part of the N3XTCON project receiving more than €2 million ($2.27 million) in support from the Innovation Fund Denmark.

More Stories