We kick off our 2015 3D Printing theme with an insight into architecture, and how 3D printing could change the face of the construction industry. Featured this month is the 3D Print Canal House, which some readers may already be familiar with as it has received a great deal of press attention in recent months.
Designed by DUS Architects, the 3D Print Canal House brings together an international team of partners, linking science, design, construction and community. Their aim is to demonstrate how 3D printing could revolutionise construction by increasing efficiency and reducing pollution and waste, and offer new tailor made housing solutions worldwide. 3D printing could also play a significant role in the quick build of low-cost housing in impoverished areas and those affected by disasters.
The 3D Print Canal House is currently under construction at a canal-side plot in Amsterdam – an open ‘expo-site’ that it is proving to be a popular visitor attraction for the public. At the heart of the site, is the Kamermaker, or Room Builder – which is essentially a scaled up version of a table-top 3D printer.
“We bought a shipping container on the internet and transformed it into one of the biggest printers on the planet.” Hans Vermeulen, DUS Architects
The Kamermaker prints building blocks from molten bio-plastic. This is currently a mix of 80% plant oil reinforced with microfibers, although this formula is still under development with the project’s materials partner Henkel. For reinforcement, the blocks have an internal honeycombed centre that can be back-filled with Eco concrete. It also provides space for pipes, wiring and data cables to be installed internally.
One of the most distinct design features of the Canal House is its geometrically-faceted plastic façade. This gives a contemporary 3D print twist to the traditional canal house silhouette. The ability to print ornamental detailing on demand is a key design benefit of 3D modelling and printing in the building industry. With costly labour-intensive work reduced, custom-designed homes would become more accessible
So what are the main benefits of printing a house?
Waste materials are a big problem for the building industry, but with 3D printing only the necessary raw materials are produced for each project. An added bonus is that 3D printer ‘ink’ can be made from recycled plastic waste. If printing on site, transport costs and CO2 emissions are greatly reduced – as are dust and noise levels. And when the building is no longer needed, it can be shredded and recycled.
Another key driver for developing this technology within the construction industry is the growing need for rapidly-produced housing. In this respect, 3D printing has the potential to reshape the way in which we build our cities – especially as Megacities are on the increase around the globe.
The 3D Print Canal House was the first full-scale construction project of its kind to get off the ground. In just a short space of time, the Kamermaker has been further developed to increase its production speed by 300%. However, progress has not been swift enough to claim the title of ‘World’s First 3D Printed House’.
Winsun now has a significant number of orders on their books for 3D printed building projects. Through a joint funded venture, they plan to expand their 3D construction output through ‘Dream Factories’ in 20 locations around the world.
Ten months earlier, Winsun made a name for itself by proving they were able to build 10 single-room dwellings in less than 24 hours. This gives some idea of how rapidly the technology is developing, and the future of 3D printing may already be assured within some areas of the construction industry.
For now, the 3D Print Canal House project remains focussed on research, experimentation and development. By engaging people in this process, DUS are playing a significant role in changing the public perception of 3D printing. The 3D Print Canal House expo-site has now received over 10,000 visitors since it was opened to the public. This number is set to grow substantially, as the 3D Print Canal House has been recently tipped as a top tourist destination in KLM and Easy Jet travel magazines!
A National Geographic article on 3D Printing has drawn international attention to the 3D Print Canal House, and the project is attracting praise from the professional design community. The 3D Print Canal House has recently scooped the ‘Best Idea‘ prize in the International Sustainable Entrepreneurship Awards, and DUS Architects are now nominated as finalist in the Habitat category of the prestigious Dutch Design Awards 2014. The project is also nominated for the New Material Award 2014, an award for the innovative and sustainable use of materials in design and arts.
We wish DUS Architects every success with the project. In our view, the 3D Print Canal House remains by far the most elegant example of 3D print architecture at this stage in the game, and we look forward to seeing the finished building in all its glory.
- Find full details of the project at the 3D Print Canal House website >
- Follow the progress of the 3D Print Canal House on Facebook >
- Get the latest 3D Print Canal House news on Twitter >
- Visit the DUS Architects website >
Image credits: DUS architects, Olivier Middendorp via Hollandse Hoogte, Martin de Bouter, Marije van Woerden, WinSun Decoration Design Engineering
3D Print Canal House features in the January 2015 edition of Rhine Capital Partners MARKER® Monthly investment updates.
- On 23rd January 2015