Thailand-based cement and construction materials business SCG has 3D printed a 102 square meter co-working space with the aim of combining aesthetic textured surfaces and structural function.
Located in Saraburi, Thailand, the building was designed through a combination of various digital programming software, such as parametric modeling, and was partially printed with recycled concrete waste. The project’s ultimate goal was to 3D print the walls of the building in a surface-truss pattern in order to provide the wall’s outer surface layer with the same structural performance as that of an inner truss, while still presenting an aesthetic appearance.
Having completed the printing of the co-working space, SCG has noted several benefits of deploying the technology over more conventional construction methods, including faster build times and less waste.
Designing the surface-truss pattern
The high-resolution textured surfaces of the building’s walls were developed through parametric design software program Grasshopper 3D to strike the right balance between aesthetic appeal and structural integrity. The material’s texture was designed so that each layer could be printed at a height of one centimeter to enable an overall printing time of 169 hours.
After fine-tuning the design, SCG used an ANSYS finite element analysis method to verify the building’s structural safety alongside Autodesk’s REVIT Building Information Model (BIM) software to evaluate the construction management process and deflect clashes with the MEP system. SCG also optimized its construction material to have suitable workability and setting behavior for use with the 3D printer so that the desired structural capabilities and aesthetic look could be successfully achieved, while preventing overflow.
The finished building’s dimensions span 6x17x3.2 meters and it consists of three rooms – a meeting room, a co-working area, and a cafe. The building’s walls were printed with a maximum curve of 20 degrees and successfully underwent a 28-day compressive stress test of 45-50 MPa.
The building was also partially printed using recycled concrete, with the waste material making up about a tenth of the final structure. According to SCG, the recycled concrete waste did not change any key properties of the structure and enabled the firm to include an environmentally-minded component within the project.
Benefits of deploying 3D printing
After completing the printing of the building, SCG noted several significant benefits to deploying 3D printing technology over conventional construction techniques. For instance, the building’s wall construction time was reduced to just five days, which is 66 percent faster than conventional methods could have facilitated.
Meanwhile, manpower was halved to five operators, and construction waste was reduced by nearly a quarter to 1.8 tons. Of this waste, 1.4 tons could be recycled to make paving blocks, highlighting 3D printing as a far greater waste-minimizing technique in comparison to conventional construction technologies.
3D printing concrete buildings
In recent years, firms have continued to leverage construction 3D printers as a means of fabricating increasingly large, detailed, and more ambitious buildings.
In 2020, Belgian sustainable building firm Kamp C 3D printed a two-floor, 90 square meter house using COBOD’s BOD2 concrete printer, equipped with mod cons such as solar panels and a “green” rooftop. The house was constructed as part of a project aiming to accelerate the transition from traditional construction to 3D printing within the Flanders region of Belgium.
COBOD’s concrete 3D printing technology has also been deployed by German construction firm PERI Group for the printing of a three-storey apartment building, deemed a “world first” by the firm. When finished, the building will consist of five rentable apartments, highlighting the potential for new commercial opportunities within the 3D printing construction sector. A few months prior, PERI and COBOD began creating Germany’s first “market ready” 3D printed building, based in North Rhine-Westphalia.
Most recently, India’s largest construction company Larsen & Toubro Construction (L&T) completed the country’s first 3D printed two-storey building, which spans a modest 65 square meters. L&T also used a large-format concrete printer supplied by COBOD to print the building, which is made up of a locally-sourced 3D printable concrete mix developed in-house by L&T’s team.
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Featured image shows SCG’s 3D printed co-working building. Image via SCG.