289: 3D house printer


According to the United Nations, some 1.6 billion people lack adequate shelter, and a third of the world’s urban population lives in informal settlements or slums. Traditional building methods lead to wasted materials such as cement and excess labour costs, driving up housing prices beyond the reach of many poor families.


3D printed houses

At the Aeditive GmbH startup located in Norderstedt, next to Hamburg, Germany, a team led by architect and 3D software engineer Hendrik Lindemann is digitalising the construction industry.Their name, “Aeditive”, is a made-up word and based on “additive manufacturing” and “aedificium”, Latin for building.
Their robotic 3D shotcrete printer known as the Concrete Aeditor can create elements up to 11x4x4 meters, including reinforcement and built-in parts.

A steel pallet is positioned in the Concrete Aeditor. One of the Kuka robots creates the element on the pallet based on RSP. The second Kuka robot supports this process by placing built-in elements such as reinforcements. The element’s surfaces are robotically post-processed. The pallet including the finished element is removed from the manufacturing space.

The Concrete Aeditor integrated system consists of six container modules and can be deployed flexibly and autonomously, both, offsite and onsite. After setting up the containers, it only requires connections for freshwater, wastewater and electricity.

Aeditive is not alone. Based on the experience of Alex le Roux, previously co-founder of Vesta Printers, ICON of Austin, Texas has been using its Vulcan 3D tablet-operated robotic printer, integrated material delivery system with a printing capability to approximately 2,000 square feet.

It has an adjustable width (to accommodate different slab sizes) and is transported in a custom trailer with no assembly required. It uses a cement-based material called “Lavacrete”.

In 2018, ICON was the first company in America to secure a building permit for and in 24 hours build a 3D printed home in Austin. During 2019, it had built 16 houses in Austin and in Salvador, Mexico, where it is constructing the world’s first 3D-printed community of 400-500 square foot Tiny Houses designed to accommodate 50 low-income families.

Alongside this ICON has been working with the US Defence Innovation Unit (DIU) at Camp Pendleton to demonstrate the use of commercial scale additive manufacturing for military use.
In October 2020, ICON was awarded a government Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) contract including funding from NASA to begin research and development of a space-based construction system that could support future exploration of the Moon.

Aeditive and Icon’s ultimate goal is to reduce the cost of homebuilding by 50%.

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