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Europe 'to become big player in 3D construction printing'


Europe will take the lead in disrupting the building sector with the help of 3D construction printing within the next three to five years, according to industry experts who took part in a recent building expo in Copenhagen, Denmark.  

The high European labour costs are driving the sector towards automation and reducing the use of human resources, but the regulations needs to be updated, they stated.

The experts were speaking at the first Scandinavian 3D construction conference being organised by Larsen & Partners in partnership with sister company 3D Printhuset.

The conference was completely sold out with more than 160 attendees linked to the construction sector from seven different countries taking part in the event.

At the conference, 3D printing and construction experts explained the different 3D construction printing technologies applied in more than 40 global 3D construction printing projects and the common conviction of the experts, that within three to five years 3D construction printing will disrupt the building sector.

The experts noticed that most of the realised 3D construction printing projects to date had been completed outside of Europe and the US, in places like China, Philippines and Dubai - most likely because it was easier now than in Europe from a regulatory point of view.     

Enrico Dini, founder of D-Shape, also known as “the man who prints houses” gave an inspiring presentation of his visions and work, which include the first 3D printed bridge in the world unveiled last month in a suburb to Madrid, Spain.

Dini explained that Dubai, due to the city’s goal of 3D construction printing 25 per cent of new buildings by 2030, was the place to be right now, as the authorities were focused on adapting regulations in parallel with the technology to assure the application of 3D construction printing. Something that still needs to happen in Europe.

Professor Zoubeir Lafhaj, (Ecole Centrale de Lille, University in France) continued by pointing out that the construction sector had seen no gains in productivity the last decades and that 3D construction printing represents the best opportunity for the building sector in Europe to catch up due to the high cost of European labour, especially if the right people get involved: “We need to attract more smart and creative people to the engineering field of construction. 3D construction printing is one of the best ways as it brings technology and innovation to a very conservative sector.”

Kaare Flindt Joergensen, Concept Development Manager at NCC Construction, followed up by stating that one of the often overlooked advantages of 3D construction printing, besides  the obvious advantage of automation leading to savings on labour, is the ability to reduce the entire building time for a project, as printers can work 24-7.

In a European context, this advantage could perhaps be the most important to reduce the total cost of a project, according to Joergensen who continued: “Within three to five years, we expect that 3D construction printing regularly will be used for single building  components, but longer term entire buildings will be the aim, when regulations are adapted to make that possible.”  

In the final panel debate Henrik Lund-Nielsen, CEO of Larsen & Partners, pointed out that although the Chinese company Winsun had seen the most press coverage of their projects, Europe were on the verge of catching up, and with the many resources being applied both in start-ups and industry giants, as well as in very respected universities and research organisations all over Europe, Europe will lead the way in the future of 3D construction printing.

"Already now 60 per cent of all 3D construction printing projects are occurring in Europe and the concepts found here are far  more disruptive and represents a larger potential for labour and materials savings than the concepts and projects of the Chinese," stated Henrik Lund-Nielsen.

"In Europe due to weather conditions integrated solutions for insulation and moisture management need to be included in 3D construction printing concepts. Such solutions are completely missing in the projects realised in Asia and this is where the potential for serious cost reductions really is," he added.-TradeArabia News Service

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