Two years ago, Eindhoven University of Technology, Van Wijnen, Saint-Gobain Weber Beamix, Vesteda, the Municipality of Eindhoven and Witteveen+Bos announced Project Milestone, a project that aims at demonstrating the possibility to build via construction 3D printing.
The partners had announced the construction of five 3D printed houses in Eindhoven, a Dutch city that is fair to consider as the tech capital of the Netherlands given the facilities dedicated to construction 3D printing in the region and the presence of other tech companies.
On April 30th, the first tenants, a Dutch couple, received the key of the first 3D printed home. The house, built on 94 square meters of net floor area, features a spacious living room and two bedrooms.
Its shape similar to a large boulder fits in well with the environment and demonstrates the freedom of form enabled by 3D printing.
Experts say there is an extra thick insulation and a connection to the heat grid, which makes the home highly comfortable and energy efficient, with an energy performance coefficient of 0.25.
Theo Salet, Professor of Concrete Structures, Eindhoven University of Technology: “With this small building, a first major step has been taken today in the development of construction into a high-quality manufacturing industry. From design to implementation, digitalization leads to sustainable and affordable homes tailored to the wishes of the occupant. I’m proud that the knowledge we’ve developed at TU/e has led to this innovation by industry, with the help of the municipality, within a short timeframe.”
During the past years, the partners have worked hard at the R&D level to make concrete printing possible in all sorts of forms. They explained in a press communication that their biggest challenge was to print the inclining walls. The results of this first house revealed that the knowledge acquired over time led to a construction which is completely different from the usual rectangular houses.
“With the printing insulated and self-supporting wall elements curved in three planes, we’ve taken important steps in this project in the further development of 3D concrete printing in construction. Together with all partners, we’ve completed a challenging process and realized a very special home. I think that we’ll soon be able to proudly add the Milestone houses to the list of iconic projects in Eindhoven”, Bas Huysmans, CEO of Weber Benelux notes.
The house consists of 24 printed concrete elements which were printed layer by layer at the printing plant in Eindhoven. The elements were transported by truck to the building site and placed on a foundation. The house was then provided with a roof and frames, and the finishing touches applied.
Needless to remind that 3D printed homes are faster to print, enable more flexibility and custom designs. They are more sustainable as less concrete is needed. Erwin Kersten, Regional Director South, Van Wijnen:
“With the realization of this first Milestone home, Van Wijnen has once again demonstrated its leadership in the field of industrialized construction. Together with our partners in the chain, we’re constantly looking for new techniques and material applications that contribute to sustainability and affordability. Innovations like Project Milestone are enormously important to this.”
Only four houses left
As a reminder, the five houses of Project Milestone are being built one after the other so that each new round of construction can maximize the learning opportunities from the previous. Soon, the project partners will begin work on the design of the next homes, which will have multiple floors and therefore require further development of the technique.
Steven Delfgaauw, Business Unit Manager Buildings at Witteveen+Bos: “Today, we’re taking an important step towards a construction chain in which it is possible to realize the sustainable house of your dreams within a short period of time. Our team of structural engineers, construction experts and building physicists, in cooperation with the partners, have delivered a world-class achievement by realizing a design that complies with all the building regulations. We have learned a lot from this and have also gained new insights. We can’t wait to use this experience to take the next steps in the development of concrete printing.”
The ‘Triple Helix’ collaboration
A distinctive feature of the project is the ‘Triple Helix’ collaboration between the government, knowledge institutions and industry. The municipality was a co-initiator, booster of innovation and facilitator of the project. TU/e conducted research and developed models to enable 3D concrete printing, Saint-Gobain Weber Beamix developed the special types of concrete mortar needed for 3D printing, and they worked together to develop the printing technology. Witteveen+Bos worked on the building engineering and structural aspects. Construction company Van Wijnen led the project and built the house. The house is now owned by residential real estate investor Vesteda, which rents it out to private individuals.
Yasin Torunoglu, alderman for housing, neighborhoods, work and spatial development, Municipality of Eindhoven:
“Innovation is an important pillar in construction. In addition to affordable homes, the market increasingly demands innovative housing concepts. With the 3D-printed home, we’re now setting the tone for the future: the rapid realization of affordable homes with control over the shape of your own house. Innovation and discovery with an eye for design is in Eindhoven’s DNA. We don’t do it alone here but together. I’m proud that this promising innovation has a place in our city and, more importantly, that it provides people with an affordable home.”
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