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3D printing for construction advances in Germany

Building Technology

3D printing for construction advances in Germany

The largest 3D-printed building in Europe will have a much lower carbon footprint.

By John Caulfield, Senior Editor | May 4, 2023
The walls of a data center in Germany are being 3D printed. image credit: COBOD
3D printers will take about 140 hours to complete the walls of a 6,600-sf building in Heidelberg, Germany. Image: COBOD

Europe’s largest 3D-printed building is scheduled for completion in July in Heidelberg, Germany.

Spearheaded by Kraus Group, a local real estate developer, investor, and manager, this 6,600-sf project is being constructed for Heidelberg IT Management GmbH and Company KG, a cloud and data center provider. The building will contain an IT server hotel.

PERI 3D Construction is using a BOD2 3D construction printer to print the building’s walls, which PERI estimates will take only 140 hours to complete, or the equivalent of printing four square meters of building per hour.

The printer robots are provided by COBOD, which produced Europe’s first 3D-printed building in 2017 and has sold more than 65 3D printers worldwide. Denmark-based COBOD’s key shareholders include General Electric, CEMEX, Holcim Group, and PERI, the latter of which first used a BOD2 machine in 2020.

Looking to print taller buildings


An aerial view of the construction site. Image; Peri Construction
An aerial view of the construction site for what will be Europe's largest 3D-printed building. Image: PERI Construction

The Heidelberg project is 162 ft long by 121 ft wide by 30 ft high. Its construction started on March 31. Hans-Jörg Kraus, managing partner of Kraus Group, said in a prepared statement that this project represents his firm’s commitment to innovative and sustainable construction methods.

Henrik Lund-Nielsen, COBOD’s founder and GM, added that the two key benefits of 3D printing for construction are speed of execution and design freedom, noting that other projects his company’s printers have been used for include residential housing in Africa and offices in Germany.

The Heidelberg data center’s architects are SSV Architekten and Mense Korte. Heidelberg Materials is supplying an estimated 450 tons of its i.tech 3D printing mortar for this project, which is 100 percent recyclable and contains a binder with a carbon footprint that’s 55 percent lower than Portland cement.


The building's walls are being printed in layers.
A special mortar is being used to print the building's walls, whose carbon footprint will be considerably less than if Portland cement had been applied. Image: Heidelberg Materials

Construction Europe magazine’s website reports that without 3D printing, the unusual design of the building’s walls would have required customized form work. COBOD’s 3D printing system is currently limited to around 9 meters in height, and the company is reportedly working on new technology that will allow its robots to print at taller heights. (The world’s tallest 3D-printed building to date is the three-story, 9.9-meter-high Dar Arkan villa in Saudi Arabia.)

The cost of the Heidelberg project was not disclosed.

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