How many buildings have already been printed on 3D printers?

3D printing of houses (and various buildings in general) is one of the most media-oriented areas of additive technology in recent times. If we hear anything about 3D printing in any mainstream media, it’s either an apartment building printed out of concrete or a printed space rocket. Of course, in the world of real additive manufacturing, 3D printing of houses is a niche and tertiary issue, but it captures the imagination of the average “Kowalski” (and the average “editor Nowak”, who wrote or recorded material on this subject) much more than 3D printing of industrial or medical applications . Another thing is that 3D printing of houses is a fact that cannot be disputed – it just happens … The only question is on what scale? Well, the Danish company COBOD, which is a leader in this sector of the additive industry, decided to count it …

A recent study by COBOD International found that there are 129 buildings 3D printed for concrete worldwide. They were created on 105 different construction sites, of which 51 of them (40%) on machines manufactured by COBOD. The second largest company in terms of printed structures is the American ICON, which helped create 15 buildings. Next on the list are Chinese Winsun, Dutch CyBe and French XtreeE – each of the companies built five “3D buildings”.

The largest number, as many as 41 buildings, were built in North America, 28 in Asia, 22 in Europe, 17 each in Africa and the Middle East, and 5 in South America. When creating the list, COBOD took into account only those structures that had an area of more than 10 m2 and were located outside. 3D printing of the walls also had to be completed.

As you can see, these numbers are ridiculously low – especially when we compare them with the interest of the media and the scale of funding that individual companies have obtained in recent years. As an excuse, you can possibly write that almost half of these buildings were built only last year, so we are dealing with a large upward trend (at least in percentage terms …). According to the study, 54 new buildings were built in 2022, of which almost 60% of them on COBOD 3D printers.

3D printing of houses is quite a controversial topic in the context of the 3D printing sector in general. In my personal opinion, it is nothing more than an automated concrete application process that has been used in the construction industry for decades. I also do not think that it solves any really important technological problem that the development industry cannot cope with – which can be confirmed by the actual scale of investments created in this way presented above. It’s still a curiosity more suited to the Discovery Channel or National Geographic than a manufacturing technique equivalent to traditional construction methods.

Another completely different thing is that “3D printing of houses” was really created … in the 1940s, which I described in an article from August last year.

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Paweł Ślusarczyk
CEO of 3D Printing Center. Has over 15 years' experience in buisiness, gained in IT, advertising and polygraphy. Part of 3D printing industry since 2013.

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