Only 140 hours needed to put together ‘Europe’s largest 3D-printed building’

A drone picture shows what is described as "Europe's largest 3D-printed building", which is currently under construction and once built end of July
A drone picture shows what is described as "Europe's largest 3D-printed building", which is currently under construction and once built end of July Copyright MAXIMILIAN SCHWARZ/REUTERS
By Roselyne Min with Reuters
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The 3D-printed building is expected to be completed by July and will house computer servers.


Construction is underway for what is being billed as “Europe’s largest 3D-printed building in the southern German city of Heidelberg.

Once completed, it will be 55 metres long, 11 metres wide and 9 metres high and will house a data centre.

The construction work normally carried out by dozens of human workers is done by a gigantic robot that prints layers and layers of concrete on top of each other. The entire process is expected to take just 140 working hours.

“It’s very innovative. At a later stage it’s imaginable that there is just one person at the construction site to make sure nothing goes wrong,” said the developer, Hans-Joerg Kraus.

His company, the Kraus Gruppe, says the concrete used is made of 100 per cent recycled materials and will reduce the emission of CO2 by 55 per cent compared to pure Portland cement, the type of cement most commonly used around the world.

Curvy architecture

The developer also promises the building will feature “very special architecture” that looks like a curtain.

There will be 18-degree overhangs which, according to the company, is impossible to make with conventional means. 

An overhang is an element of a building that sticks out beyond the walls. It's needed to provide extra protection from things like rain and sun, keeping the inside of the building safe and dry.

The interior of the curvy building will be painted by a painting robot developed by a German paint manufacturer, Deutsche Amphibolin-Werke (DAW).

Krause Gruppe expects the construction to be completed by July 2023.

Similar 3D-printed building projects have been seen in other countries including the Netherlands and China.

In 2015, Dutch architects used a giant 3D printer to construct a prototype house using plastic heavily based on plant oil.

That same year, Chinese firm WinSun 3D-printed a five-storey apartment building and a 1,100 m2 villa using recycled materials.

Kraus says 3D printing technology could allow new designs that aren’t feasible with current techniques, but it won’t replace these entirely.

“I am convinced that 3D printing has a bright future,” Kraus said. “But it’s clear that not everything being built in the next 20 years will come from a 3D printer”.

For more on this story, watch the video in the media player above.

Video editor • Roselyne Min

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