Africa’s first construction 3D printer is developed via Holcim 14Trees. Africa now boasts the first commercially available 3D printer for building construction. Invented by 14Trees, a partnership between Holcim 14Trees and British development financing agency British International Investment and African construction business Pan Mixers South Africa (PMSA), the system is known by its brand name, Iroko. In Q4 2023, partners anticipate delivering the first Iroko units to consumers in Africa, with plans to extend into Europe in Q1 2024.
Iroko has many of the same advantages as other concrete 3D printers, such as using less labour and less material in total. The technology can print with Holcim TectorPrint material, which reduces a building’s carbon footprint by 70%, and is optimised for printing structures with one or two stories.
Holcim 14Trees shaping the future
The cost of using Iroko is said to be 30 percent cheaper than that of competing products. According to Holcim 14Trees, it can be erected by hand, thus no crane or telehandler is required, and no other units are needed to print on further floors. The quality of the Holcim 14Trees prints may be managed through an integrated laser system. In addition, a weather station records current weather conditions to adapt printing settings accordingly. As an added convenience, it may be sent in a single container.
“I am excited to see Holcim 14Trees shaping the future of construction,” stated Miljan Gutovic, Region Head for Europe at Holcim. Holcim’s goal of “decarbonizing building at scale” is perfectly in sync with this breakthrough, which will hasten the adoption of 3D printing in construction around the globe.
According to Holcim 14Trees’ Managing Director François Perrot: “The debut of this Africa-made printer builds on our record of 3D printing on the continent, from establishing the world’s first 3D-printed school in Malawi to the world’s largest 3D-printed affordable housing project in Kenya. Together with Iroko, we can take this game-changing technology to the next level and decarbonize the construction industry in Africa and beyond.
This highlights some noteworthy developments in the field of additive manufacturing (AM). In contrast to the Middle East, where the AM industry has been expanding rapidly, the southern part of Africa has lagged behind. While there is a lot of research and some successful commercialization attempts in South Africa, these successes haven’t been repeated elsewhere on the continent. As a result, it is of paramount importance that a commercial additive construction system be developed in the area.
But it’s important to see this as part of a bigger trend. Due to rising energy prices caused by the depletion of easily accessible fossil fuels and dwindling natural resources, re-localization is a significant macro trend for the next phase of globalisation. Because of this, every area is establishing very effective digital manufacturing methods at the regional level. Given the massive amount of infrastructure work that has to be done in Africa’s emerging regions, the fact that this is being proven with additive building is noteworthy.
About Holcim: Holcim is a multinational corporation that employs 60,000 people all over the world and possesses an unparalleled depth and breadth of knowledge and skills. Local teams from Holcim work in a variety of different marketplaces around the globe, thanks to the company’s global reach.
Their mission is to foster growth that benefits both people and the environment. In order to achieve our aims of net-zero and circular construction, we have established stringent targets based on scientific research.
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