UA & BAM unveil 3D BUILDER freeform concrete 3D printer to make ‘Endless’ house

Innovation in Architecture, Construction, Real Estate and Transportation

UA & BAM unveil 3D BUILDER freeform concrete 3D printer to make ‘Endless’ house

The east of Amsterdam has been absolutely packed with sustainable innovation projects since April 2016, when FabCity opened its doors. Featuring 50 pavilions operated by more than 400 students, professors, artists and creatives, all participants are trying to realize innovative solutions for urban problems and are showcasing them to the public. It’s also a fantastic place to highlight the latest sustainable technology breakthroughs, and that is exactly what construction company BAM and Universe Architecture have done. At FabCity, they have just launched their 3D BUILDER, a freeform concrete 3D printer that combines robotic arms with natural building materials.

freeform 3d print

This remarkable 3D printer has grown out of a collaboration between European construction company BAM and architect Janjaap Ruijssenaars. The latter started his architecture firm Universe Architecture back in 2000, and has been very interested in 3D printing for years. Back in 2013, Ruijssenaars announced plans to 3D print the Landscape House, a building with no beginning or end.

In 2015, these plans already led to the 3D printing of a concrete bench (above) that captures the remarkable shape of the Landscape House. The bench itself was 3D printed in collaboration with Italian concrete 3D printing specialists Desamanera, the company of pioneer Enrico Dini. The bench can be found outside BAM’s office in the southeast of Amsterdam, and Ruijssenaars is looking to produce more around the city of Amsterdam.

But with the completion of the 3D BUILDER, Ruijssenaars will doubtlessly be dreaming of completing the actual Landscape House. According to its designers, this is the first construction 3D printer to combine freeform construction with robotics from the automotive industry. It should enable them to construct freeform architecture, including complicated building facades packed with ornaments and decorations. To showcase its power, the 3D BUILDER will be constructing a Landscape House at a 1:4 scale at FabCity over the coming weeks. “It’s fantastic to work together and develop a machine that makes new innovations possible. This was much more common for architects during the Renaissance,” Ruijssenaars said of the machine.

What’s more, this new construction 3D printer is immensely flexible in use. Thanks to its replaceable printhead (based on Desamanera’s D-Shape method), it enables users to 3D print numerous building materials, including stone and concrete. Its designers see no reason why steel or isolation materials shouldn’t be added to that list in the future either. And thanks to a partnership with Eindhoven-based AcoTech, the developers are looking into mounting the 3D BUILDER onto tank threads to enable it to autonomously find its way around construction sites.

According the construction specialists, the 3D BUILDER’s 3D printing technique is comparable to that of an inkjet printer. A binding fluid is extruded onto layers of sand, turning the rock material into any desired shape. The materials currently used for the Amsterdam project are commonly found in nature, and have been used centuries ago by Roman and Chinese building specialists.

Most importantly, the materials can be recycled again and again for other building projects, says Rutger Sypkens of BAM. “Concrete granules, but also previously made prints, can be used as a building material,” he explained. “Aside from the freeform options, we are also very intrigued by this circular building process.”

According to Egbert Fransen of the EU2016 Arts & Design of Europe by People, this is a typical innovation that belongs at FabCity. “The fact that this unique collaboration is launching at FabCity just proves to me that you can achieve groundbreaking results for the development of the sustainable cities of the future by simply putting different innovative partners together, regardless of their size,” Fransen said. FabCity is still open to the public until 26 June 2016, where the 3D BUILDER can be seen in action.