Concreative UAE Can Provide Cost Effective Concrete 3D Printing Solution for Complex DesignJune 22, 2019
A few days ago Concreative, founded by the Freyssinet civil engineering company (Vinci Construction group), is inaugurating a new large scale additive manufacturing unit in Dubai. It is an integrated design, production and installation service of 3D printed architectural and structural elements.
By making this tool available to the market, Concreative is releasing architects from the constraints imposed by standard formwork. They now have the means to design and produce complex concrete architectural and structural elements. This new technology also heralds projects that consume less raw materials, are more reactive, cleaner, quieter, less gruelling and much safer.
Beyond the tool’s technological and industrial contribution, Concreative offers support for designers and builders from the design phase through to application using perfectly integrated multi-discipline skills.
I had some questions in my mind about 3D printing concrete technology and how will it benefit the construction industry and is it cost effective?
So, I asked some few questions and below is the reply by Vincent Maillet, Operations Manager – Concreative Concrete 3D Printing LLC, United Arab Emirates
Which are the places Concreative can add value in the construction industry in UAE?
Concreative is a newly settled company in Dubai that provides fully integrated service of large-scale 3D printing of concrete. It was born from a vision of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum. Technology become mature a year ago and it came from our core business, a specialized civil engineering within Soletanche-Freyssinet and Vinci affiliating with local companies E-construct and Drawling architects.
Concreative strives towards new innovative technology and sustainability and our intentions are to remodel the way to design and built concrete components with 3D printing. The versatility of this system allows us to explore new complex architectural shapes, costly to develop with standard methods. Our solution gives a complete integrated service: design, manufacture and installation. The expertise is provided through our extensive experience in civil engineering, MEP integration and construction methods.
Our intention is to add value by providing mass production of customizing elements, integrated services from design to construction, the capability to design out of the box, high-quality product, reducing the environmental impact (no waste) and integrating functionality, structural efficiency and aesthetics.
What is the process for getting a 3D concrete printing object or structure by Concreative?
Concrete 3d printing is additive manufacturing. We use the most advanced technology on this market developed by our partner XtreeE, a French start-up company.
The technology is extruding the concrete layers, each being printed by a digitally controlled nozzle. The material passes through the nozzle in liquid form and solidifies. This is achieved by a chemical reaction during mixing inside the printing head. The cement paste rheology is at optimum to allow extrusion and mixing with the previously deposited layers. To achieve this, essential is to use specific concrete formulations that include fluidizing and retarding agents, and high-performance activators and binders.
Will the 3D concrete printing is done at a workshop or at clients venue?
At this stage, the technology is not mature enough to overcome the site and environmental constraints and produce high-quality products at the same time.
The benefits of concrete 3d printing in a controlled environment are the minimization of site operation, reduction of congested work areas, improved QSE standards, production of high-quality finishes and reduced environmental impact in general.
What is the difference in terms of strength of 3D printed concrete compared to usually concrete structure?
For our application, we use a high-performance concrete with compressive strength 3 to 4 times higher than standard reinforced concrete. Our specifically developed formulation allows fast and controlled setting of each concrete layer. We also work with different concrete grades as well as clay. The technology is versatile and one of our targets is to adopt the right material for the right component.
When talking about the concrete strength, we need to think about structural design. It is important to dissociate performances of the concrete material used for 3d print and performance of the finished product made of superposition of layers. On one hand, on the material, the performances are well controlled and compliant with the test standard. On the other, on the finished product, due to the very recent technic of concrete 3d printing, the standards are not yet developed. This will be a long process which already started with ACI and Euronorms.
Today, when we design a structural element, we use the concrete 3d printer capabilities to develop the complex aesthetical and functional formwork. This formwork will be used to insert reinforced concrete when necessary for optimized quantity. The structural evaluation is performed on the reinforced concrete or posts tension concrete sections within the concrete 3d print shell.
Will the Concreative be only in UAE or there are plans to reach across the Middle East?
Concreative will focus on the Middle East markets through its extensive network within Freyssinet subsidiaries. We already work on a potential project for Saudi Arabia and Lebanon.
What are the advantages of the 3D printed concrete structure compared to the traditional style?
The concrete 3d printing does not intend to compete with traditional construction or precast industry. Our services and products are different and cannot be developed with other technics than 3D printers.
There are many benefits of concrete 3D printing compared to the traditional one. The complex shapes are not achievable with conventional formwork, the time between design and installation on site is significantly shorter, design flexibility with parametric modelling tools is huge and there is a significant reduction of environmental impact by using the concrete in necessary quantities only (no waste).
Does 3D printed concrete structure workout cost effective?
The concrete 3d printing is a cost-effective technology but it is important to understand the impact of this on the whole construction process and workflow.
Since we are willing to develop a component that is not achievable with a conventional method, the cost comparison is not possible. However, if we take the example of developing a component requesting the fabrication of a complex mould in the precast industry it looks like this:
Step 1: Design of the mould
Step 2: Fabrication of the mould
Step 3: Implementation of the mould, testing and fabrication
Step 4: Quality control of the finished product
Step 1: Design of the element shell and transfer to robotic of the BIM file
Step 2: Fabrication
Step 3: Control of the finished product
The number of tasks, as well as time duration of tasks, are drastically reduced with 3D printing. The workflow is quicker between architects and design team, fabricator and installation. Cost reduction is also massive since there is no need to develop a costly mould or formwork as the component is directly extruded. Mass production of customized products cannot compete in terms of cost with the development of hundreds or thousands of moulds.
Are there some projects already in process or done by Concreative?
Concreative is currently developing architectural components for mass production and a boundary wall for a client in Abu Dhabi. We have high potential projects with Expo 2020 and the Museum of the future where innovative technologies will be showcased.