More design freedom with concrete thanks to a giant 3D printer

Until now, the flat and angular shapes of concrete limited the creative freedom of architects. But by making large moulds with 3D printing it is possible to make large concrete structures with more freedom of form.

3D printing and engineering specialists 3Dealise and the Bruil construction company have joined forces to develop technology that provides design flexibility and other advantages of 3D printing for large concrete structures. This led to the 1.6 metre high twisted H-section that could be seen at the GEVEL 2015 trade fair as an example of what can be done these days.

Ready-for-use technology

To create such large constructions, 3Dealise uses an enormous 3D printer that can print products the size of telephone boxes (construction volume 1800 x 1000 x 700 mm) in 24 hours to make moulds for concrete. These moulds can be stacked like Lego blocks in order to achieve even larger shapes. The moulds are given a special treatment to make it easier to remove the concrete later. Bruil then pours the (fibre-reinforced) concrete into the mould. When the concrete is set, the mould can be removed with water under high pressure. 

This new technology is important for two reasons. It opens up a world of new possibilities for architects - irregular curved surfaces, lightweight half-open mesh or honeycomb structures, ... But, most important, this technology is ready for use today in real applications with fibre-reinforced concrete structures. 

Want to know more about the latest capabilities of 3D printers? Read all about it at Techniline