PERI uses COBOD printer to build world’s first on-site 3D printed apartment building

Germany-based construction company PERI Group has announced the beginning of a project which will see the construction of a three-floor printed commercial apartment building on-site in Wallenhausen, Germany.

Deemed a global ‘world first’ by the firm, the apartment will be printed using Danish manufacturing firm COBOD’s 3D printing technology, and when finished will consist of five rentable apartments.

“We are incredibly please that we are beginning to see the fruits of the many 3D construction printers we have sold,” said Henrik Lund-Nielsen, founder and general manager of COBOD. “The actual building projects have been delayed by the coronavirus, but now they start to be revealed. This new German project is really a great milestone as the commercial nature of the building proves the competitiveness of the 3D construction printing technology for three-floor buildings and apartment buildings.

“This, again, opens entirely new markets for our printers.”

PERI’s prior 3D construction projects

The announcement for the new project comes just a few months after PERI revealed it had embarked on creating the first ‘market ready’ 3D printed building in Germany, based in Beckum, North Rhine-Westphalia. PERI began the construction process using COBOD’s rapid BOD2 system, which moves at a speed of 1 m/s, and takes just five minutes to print 1m² of a double-skin wall.

A global supplier of formwork and scaffolding systems in addition to civil engineering solutions, PERI acquired a minority stake in COBOD in 2018 after developing an interest in 3D printing. COBOD’s concrete 3D printing technology has been deployed in several construction projects involving large-scale buildings, one of which involved the building of a two-floor 90 square meter house in partnership with Belgian sustainable building company Kamp C, earlier this year.

COBOD’s technology has also been used to print ‘record tall’ wind turbines for GE Renewable Energy, and in the live 3D printing of the walls of four small houses during the international Bautec construction exhibition in Berlin.

COBOD BOD2 3D printer in action. Image via COBOD.
COBOD BOD2 3D printer in action. Image via COBOD.

The Wallenhausen appartment

For the latest project, PERI will print the walls of the three-floor apartment building with COBOD’s BOD2 printer. Featuring a modular build, the BOD2 can be extended in any direction with modules of 2.5 meters. The new building will use a BOD2 of 12.5x20x7.5 meters which has a maximum speed of 1 m/s that could see up to 10 tons of concrete printed per hour.

“The BOD2 is a very flexible printer,” continued Lund-Nielson. “For this print PERI has chosen to use a long printer, whereas we used a much shorter but taller printer for printing of the 10m tower for GE. This was the whole idea behind the modular design of the BOD2 printer – it is always possible to find a size that meets the customer’s need.”

Thomas Imbacher, Innovation and marketing director at PERI, hopes that the completion of the apartment will pave the way to 3D construction printing becoming more mainstream. Significantly, the apartment is not a demo or research project but is made for profit.

“We are very confident that 3D construction printing will become increasingly important in certain market segments over the coming years and has considerable potential,” he said. “By printing the first apartment building on-site, we are demonstrating that this new technology can also be used to print large scale dwelling units.

“In terms of 3D construction printing, we are opening up additional areas of application on an entirely new level.”

The BOD2 printing the first floor of the three-floor building. Image via COBOD.
The BOD2 printing the first floor of the three-floor building. Image via COBOD.

Large-scale 3D printing in the construction sector

3D printing is being increasingly leveraged within the construction sector for the printing of commercial and residential buildings, and other forms of infrastructure such as bridges and viaducts.

In 2018, Texas-based construction technologies company ICON and its non-profit partner New Story, created the first permitted 3D printed home in Austin, Texas, as part of its mission to reinvent the construction of affordable homes. More recently, 3D printing construction start-up Mighty Buildings raised $30 million in funding to scale its production line at its Oakland factor, enabling it to fully-3D print 350 square foot units, while U.S.-based concrete specialists QUIKRETE and Contour Crafting Corporation (CC Corp) collaborated to develop a proprietary concrete to be used in the building of low-income housing and disaster relief facilities in Los Angeles.

Moving away from housing, large-scale 3D printing is also being utilized in the construction of bridges and other infrastructure projects. A consortium consisting of civil engineering firm FreyssinetLevigne and Cheron Architects, computing and artificial intelligence (AI) firm Quadric, building materials specialist LafrageHolcim and large scale 3D printing firm XtreeE, was recently awarded a contract for a 40-meter pedestrian footbridge made from 3D printed structural concrete, in preparation for the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris.

Elsewhere, Netherlands-based 3D concrete printing specialist Vertico collaborated with the University of Ghent to produce an optimized and material-efficient footbridge using its concrete 3D printing technology, while Dutch firms Royal HaskoningDHVDSM, and CEAD partnered to build a lightweight, fiber-reinforced polymer pedestrian bridge constructed using 3D printing and composite materials.

Sustainable large-scale 3D printing has also seen growing interest, with projects such as Italian 3D printer manufacturer WASP’s Shamballa project – an eco-friendly technological village in Italy built using resourceful additive manufacturing – and its 3D printed eco-house, having received much interest at global events. Similarly, a Rotterdam footbridge 3D printed from recyclable source materials by DSM and Royal HaskoningDHV has been hailed as the first in a new line of “next generation” 3D printed sustainable footbridges.

ICON's first 3D printed home in Austin, Texas. Photo via ICON.
ICON’s first 3D printed home in Austin, Texas. Photo via ICON.

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Featured image shows render of the three-floor commercial apartment building to be 3D printed in Germany. Image via COBOD.