3D printed building

3D printed building

The façade of the ‘Europa-Haus’ in the Amsterdam Marine Quarter, built for the duration of the Dutch Presidency of the EU, has been constructed by 3D printing. Based in Amsterdam, Actual, a part of DUS Architects, developed the idea of building entire houses in this way using a mobile 3D photo wall printer in extra-extra-large (XXL) format, which is housed in a shipping container.

The load-bearing structures are manufactured from biodegradable plastic, which can be recycled at the end of its life. This makes the structure both eco-friendly and sustainable. The interior decorations, such as the seating elements, were also 3D printed.

The architects were keen to point out that while pre-fabricated architecture is cost-effective, it can restrict design freedom in terms of creativity. The structural elements of the façade were 3D-printed, and then concreted into position on-site. This process of construction can also work to build new homes in disaster areas, for example.

The first generation 3D printer had a separate room for the control, this limited the part size to a maximum 2.5 x 2.5 x 3.5m. There was also need for improvement, both in precision and in the printing speed. Project partner, igus optimised the design of the mobile 3D printer and developed a linear robot for the print head.

During the planning stages, the engineers used the modular drylin system multi-axis linear robots. They are available as line, flat and room gantries for one, two and three axes, and depart from pre-defined surfaces and spaces. To enable the print head to move precisely, self-lubricated drylin toothed belt units were used. The leadscrew units were used to position the gantry vertically, which integrate drives that provide position detection.

The engineers also supported Actual with integration of the printer, which can now print structural elements of up to 6.5m. In addition to the linear robots, other parts from igus were included in the construction of the 3D printer, including plain bearings, cable management systems and linear systems.

Among the projects being undertaken by Actual at present is the ‘3D print Canal House’, which is currently being built on a town canal in Amsterdam.