A 3D-printed building unveiled last month at the Halban campus of the German University of Technology in Oman (GUtech) has now been described as the world’s largest 3D printed real concrete building
The structure was 3D printed with a super low cost D.fab concrete solution developed in cooperation between Mexican multinational building materials company CEMEX and Danish 3D-printing technology firm COBOD.
The 3D printed house consists of 190 m2 and is typical for a social housing unit in the Sultanate of Oman. It has three bedrooms, three bathrooms, a living room, kitchen, and guest reception area.
The house was printed in two stages. While the materials recipe was adjusted and training of the Omani crew took place during the printing of the first part of the house, the second part of the house was done by the Omani crew on their own and it only took five days to complete. In attendance at its formal unveiling last month were Sultan al Habsi, Minister of Finance, and a number of dignitaries.
In a statement on the occasion, Dr Hussain al Salmi, Acting Rector of GUtech commented: “Today’s display of the first 3D printed building is perhaps the first step in the 1,000-mile journey. A step that will not be success without the support of all parties involved. In this regard, I sincerely thank all the local and international parties who contribute to supporting the center and the University. We hope that this centre will play its part in supporting Oman’s efforts to achieve Oman’s Vision 2040.”
While the Middle East have seen numerous 3D printed buildings, the 190 m2 building in Oman is the first to be printed with a real concrete instead of the traditional dry mix mortars used in most other 3D printed buildings. To make the concrete 3D printable, GUtech applied the D.fab solution developed by COBOD and CEMEX. The concrete can have particle sizes up to 10 mm (1/3 inch) and is made from locally available cement, sand, and gravel.
Commenting on the significance of the D.fab solution, Juan Romero, Executive Vice President Sustainability, Commercial, and Operations Development of CEMEX said: “The introduction of this revolutionary 3D printing system is a testament to our customer-centric mindset and relentless focus on continuous innovation and improvement. Working together with COBOD, we have developed an experience for customers that is superior to anything that has been provided in the past.”
In the case of the Sultanate of Oman, more than 99.5 per cent of the materials used were local, with less than 0.5 per cent coming from Europe in the form of the D.fab additives. In Muscat, the cost of materials for 3D printing of the walls of the 190 m2 house was less than 1,600 euro. According to COBOD, if a printable dry mix mortar had been used the cost of the materials would be more than 20,000 euro, and it was such significant cost reductions which COBOD and CEMEX was aiming for with their cooperation.
Commenting on this milestone for the widespread adoption of the 3D construction printing method, Henrik Lund-Nielsen, Founder & General Manager of COBOD International stated: “While we have been happy to help various cement and concrete manufacturers develop dry mix 3D printable mortars, we have also insisted on that a solution for making real concrete made from local available materials would be needed for mass application of our technology. We are more than pleased that CEMEX took on the challenge, and proud that we in cooperation could develop the new solution, which GUtech has now applied to the first building in Oman. With the low cost for the printed materials, on top of the savings from not needing formwork and the minimal crew needed to operate our printers, our disruptive technology is now more competitive than ever before in Oman and everywhere in the world.”