LafargeHolcim, 3D printing specialist aim to commercialize structural elements

Sources: LafargeHolcim Ltd., Zurich; CP staff

Through a partnership with French start-up XtreeE, a developer of large-scale 3D printing systems, LafargeHolcim is eyeing commercialization of the first concrete structural element of its kind in Europe.

Bringing the digital revolution to construction, the producer notes, 3D printing allows complex geometric structures to be created at a reasonable cost and with shorter production times compared to traditional fabrication. LafargeHolcim has initially pegged three 3D-printed concrete targets: high value-added architecture, affordable housing, and robotics-enabled, precast building element fabrication.

Teams at the company’s research & development center near Lyon, France, have leveraged scientific and technological expertise to design a range of printing-grade mixes. Among early deliverables are materials for two 3D-printed structures:

  • A 13-ft. post supporting the playground roof of a middle school in Aix-en-Provence, France. Produced and assembled by XtreeE and Fehr Architectural, it represents the first 3D-printed structural element to be marketed in Europe.
  • A Ile-de-France regional authority pavilion, presently at concept stage and based on a LafargeHolcim, XtreeE, ABB and Dassault Systèmes design collaboration.

“Innovation is part of our DNA in order to respond to the trends in tomorrow’s construction market,” says LafargeHolcim Head of Growth & Innovation Gérard Kuperfarb. “We are positioned as a pioneer in 3D printing, a revolutionary technique that brings greater accuracy while considerably reducing construction times.”

XtreeE’s playground post bears the signature of 3D-printed concrete: layers of low-slump mixes placed by nozzle-bearing robotic devices programmed to yield precise patterns, shapes and textures. PHOTO: LafargeHolcim Ltd.