Jun 24, 2015 | By Simon

While there are currently many developments being made across the entire additive manufacturing industry, among others that have been standing out as of late have consisted of 3D printing applications that are of either very large scale or very small scale applications.

So far, the smaller applications have mainly consisted of research into nanoscale 3D printing for purposes such as biomedical engineering applications including cell scaffolding while the larger applications have been focused on creating architectural structures such as those that can be created in any geographical area using found materials.  Needless to say, the developments surrounding these scaled applications are among the most exciting to date that we’ve seen.  

Among some of the more recent developments in large scale 3D printing, a Finland-based company is currently researching ways of leveraging additive manufacturing technology to create 3D printed apartment buildings that can be used in the very near future.  

The company, Fimatec, was founded by current CEO Arto Koivuharju and blends both additive manufacturing with robotic fabrication to create ‘ready-to-live’ apartments through a unique fabrication process that creates both exterior walls and interior walls with insulation simultaneously.  

Among other details that make the company’s approach interesting include their modular home-like approach to the building process; all of the walls are printed within their own manufacturing facility much like a traditional product.  Like a large set of blocks, the walls can be used to assemble the buildings quickly and accurately with the pre-made components as specified by a team of architects and structural engineers.  Eventually, Koivuharju is hoping to move this printing process from his factory to construction sites to reduce the transportation costs and make the process even more seamless.  

“The cost is 10-20 percent less than with traditional concrete element building, and the units are constructed 70-80 percent faster,” says Koivuharju. “When building on-site, the costs can drop by half.”

Thus far, the project has cost Koivuharju €200,000 out of his own pocket to develop the print heads and patent the technology.  Understandably, he’d like to see the idea develop into something that can be utilized by the construction industry sooner rather than later.  Just yesterday, Koivuharju unveiled an example of his 3D printed walls that he thinks can revolutionize the industry.  

“We assume that by the second half of next year we will have a suitable industrial version of the device available,” said Birch Harju, Fimatec’s Managing Director.

Currently, Koivuharju is hoping to raise at least €1.5 million to begin a pilot project that utilizes the Fimatec 3D printed walls and would be expected to begin next year.

While we’ve seen a number of 3D printers that are designed specifically for creating walls, none have focused on the challenge of creating both interior and exterior walls with insulation via an additive manufacturing approach.  If Koivuharju can raise the funding necessary to begin the pilot project, then we may be seeing 3D printed housing as a viable living option sooner than we previously thought.    



Posted in 3D Printing Applications



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