Germany-based construction company PERI Group is in the process of erecting the country’s first “market-ready” additive manufactured residential building.
PERI’s two-storey house, located in Beckum, North Rhine-Westphalia, is being built using Danish manufacturing firm COBOD’s 3D printing technology. The project is part of the region’s broader “Innovatives Bauen” or “Innovative Construction” program, and reportedly represents the first time that the fabrication technique has been used in Germany.
“We are very confident that construction printing will become increasingly important in certain market segments over the coming years,” said Thomas Imbacher, Innovation & Marketing Director at PERI. “We are proud that PERI’s involvement in the project has seen us become a pioneer and forerunner for this new construction technique.”
“The construction of the 3D printed residential building in Beckum is a milestone for 3D construction printing technology.”
PERI and COBOD’s construction expertise
Founded in 1969, and based in Weißenhorn, Germany, PERI is a global supplier of formwork and scaffolding systems as well as civil engineering solutions. The family-owned company has more than 60 subsidiaries around the world, through which it has supported a variety of building projects, ranging from office complexes to oil rigs.
In recent years, PERI has developed an interest in 3D printing, and it acquired a minority stake in COBOD in 2018. The company’s decision to invest in the Danish construction firm is significant, because its concrete fabrication technology has previously been deployed in the fabrication of numerous large-scale buildings.
At this year’s Bautec construction exhibition for instance, COBOD provided a live demonstration of its machines by 3D printing the walls of four small houses. Belgian sustainable building company Kamp C meanwhile, has leveraged the company’s BOD2 system to build a two-floor, 90 square meter house.
Among a variety of other projects, COBOD’s technology is also being used as part of a program with GE Renewable energy, to 3D print “record-tall” turbine structures for generating clean power sources. Now PERI itself is getting in on the act, and constructing what could be the first of many buildings, in a partnership with the company it has made a “significant” investment in.
“At PERI, we see ourselves as a leading innovator in our markets,” said Dr Fabian Kracht, Finance & Organisation Director at PERI. “Investing wisely in start-ups that are offering new solutions in our markets is another aspect of that. The success story in Beckum is validation that we have taken the right approach.”
PERI’s Bavarian 3D printed building
Given that the project represents the first time COBOD’s technology has been deployed in Germany, PERI has had to spend months gaining approval for the process. The concept’s application was supported by national engineering office Schießl Gehlen Sodeikat, and the plans were tested and eventually approved at the Technical University of Munich.
Having got the go-ahead from state regulators, PERI began the construction process using a rapid BOD2 system, which moves at a speed of 1 m/s, and only takes five minutes to print 1m² of a double-skin wall. The advanced construction process has allowed the building’s architects, MENSE-KORTE, to create a complex building design, without raising its overall cost.
“The concrete printing process affords us designers a high degree of freedom when we are designing buildings,” said Waldemar Korte, architect and partner at MENSE-KORTE. “With conventional construction methods, this would only be possible at great financial cost.”
“With our printed residential building in Beckum, we are demonstrating the potential of the construction printing process.”
Within PERI’s setup, the BOD2 printer is mounted to a gantry, meaning that its print head moves about three axes on a securely installed metal frame. The benefit of this approach, is that the machine can move along to any position within the site, and only needs to be calibrated once which reduces any potential downtime.
The system is also certified for work to be carried out within the construction area while printing is in progress, and this allows pipes and other parts to be installed without interruptions. Once finished, the family house will feature two floors, and a spacious 160m2 living area, but according to PERI, the process can still be optimized further, for use within future building projects.
“As this is the first building of its kind, we are making a point of printing at a slower rate than what is actually possible,” said Leonhard Braig, Production & Supply Chain Director at PERI. “We want to take the opportunity to gain further experience in day-to-day operations, as this will help us to leverage the cost reduction potential of our technology to a greater extent in the next project.”
Additive manufacturing and affordable housing
In recent years, a number of companies have sought to leverage the cost benefits of 3D printing to produce more affordable homes for people to live in.
Established 3D printing manufacturing firm ICON for instance, deployed its Vulcan system to fully fabricate a house in Austin, Texas, that reportedly cost less than $4,000 to build. The 350-square-foot home was created in just 48 hours as a proof of concept for the firm’s technology.
Construction Mighty Buildings has managed to raise $30 million in funding to develop its advanced additive construction technique. Using the investment, the firm has now launched as a fully-fledged ‘production-as-a-service’ business, offering a range of 3D printed 350-square-foot housing modules.
Elsewhere, Concrete specialists QUIKRETE and Contour Crafting Corporation, have partnered to 3D print residential, commercial and industrial buildings around the United States. The two companies aim to build housing for people on lower incomes or those needing disaster relief facilities.
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Featured image shows the construction site on which PERI’s 3D printed house is being built. Photo via the PERI Group.