Nov 1, 2017 | By Tess

LifeTec Construction Group Inc., a Vancouver-based construction firm is aiming to bring 3D printed housing structures to the Canadian city in an effort to provide a faster, more efficient home-building process.

Located on Canada’s Pacific coast, Vancouver is a city known for many things: its stunning views, its fantastic seafood, and more recently, significant population growth. This, paired with an imminent housing crisis spurred on by international real estate investment, means that many people are searching for homes in the growing city, and affordable ones at that.

That’s where LifeTec Construction Group is hoping to make a difference. Using a novel construction 3D printing process known as Framecad, the company says it is equipped to 3D print steel frames for homes in a faster and more efficient manner than traditional home-building processes, which rely on wood frames.

The Framecad system was developed in New Zealand and has since been exported to Australia, Asia, parts of Europe, Africa, and South America. With LifeTec’s use of the technology, Framecad has now landed in Canada.

In short, the technology uses a laser-based 3D printing technology to construct bespoke and modular steel beams and panels. These steel parts, which can be optimized in terms of design for a given housing structure, are then shipped to the construction site and can be assembled almost immediately on the spot.

LifeTec believes that the technology will offer a number of unprecedented benefits to the Vancouver construction industry. Firstly, the technology is capable of creating lightweight steel parts which are stronger and more durable than conventional building wood.

Secondly, once the steel beams and parts are at the construction site, the team says it is only a matter of days before the housing frame is erected.

“If we can work with the developer early enough, we can show up right when the foundation is complete, and it’s three to five days from there to assemble the house—as opposed to three to five weeks for building it from wood,” explained LifeTec COO Jesse Goldman.

Third, and perhaps most significantly, the technology can help to fill a lack of labour in the construction field that is currently affecting Vancouver. This means that the construction of a house can be sped up significantly as it relies less on manual labour.

“Right now, on any construction project in the Lower Mainland, time is a huge factor,” commented LifeTec founder and president Krishna Jolliffe. “When you are dealing with a lack of labour, speeding up those time frames creates huge efficiencies for any builder. So I don’t think we’ll always be able to show people savings, because we aim to come in at the same cost as traditional methods, but on any project, we’ll have a significant time advantage.”

Vancouver, Canada

Currently, LifeTec is working on a number of smaller-scale private building projects, which include five detached homes for individual families. Eventually, it hopes to scale up its 3D printing capacity to build larger structures, such as multi-family complexes and mid-rise commercial and industrial buildings.

“The sky’s the limit,” said Jolliffe. “We can do anything that can be done with wood. The only construction we can’t do is for high-rises, but we can still do all the infill framing. We can do that at the same cost of existing providers, but at three to four times the speed. So we can create efficiencies in practically every construction process going on in the market.”

The company currently has one Framecad 3D printer at its 8,000-square-foot facility in Vancouver, though it it aiming to invest in more 3D printing equipment to meet growing building requests. Jolliffe says that within the next two years, the goal is to move to a bigger facility and establish a more extensive steel frame manufacturing system, featuring three or four 3D printers.

For more 3D printing construction-related projects, be sure to check out our top 3D printed homes and buildings.



Posted in 3D Printing Application



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Dr James Gardiner wrote at 11/2/2017 11:46:36 PM:

This is not a 3D printing process by any definition, the editors and writers of 3ders should know the difference by now. This process is an automated sheet folding and cutting process, so it is more akin to a ‘beam line’ machine in that the process for fabricating the elements goes through a number of stages in the processing of a sheet of metal into a studd, beam etc. The process is very limited in the geometries it can fabricate, this technology has been around for decades. Soon we will get brick layers calling their profession 3D printing!

Ron wrote at 11/2/2017 1:34:43 PM:

Can we see a photo of an actual building???

MarcC wrote at 11/2/2017 9:11:27 AM:

Agree with the above comment, article should be removed as have just been sucked into giving them publicity on a false pretense.

Scottm wrote at 11/1/2017 10:58:18 PM:

I don't think that bending sheet steel into a channel counts as 3D printing. Unless you want to include having gutters installed to. Nothing wrong with the idea, just not 3D printing. more like marketing fluff.

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