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14Trees launches Iroko 3D printer for construction made in Africa

The Iroko 3D printer

The Iroko 3D printer

13th July 2023

By: Schalk Burger

Creamer Media Senior Deputy Editor

     

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14Trees, a joint venture (JV) between construction materials company Holcim and UK governmental development finance institution British International Investment (BII), has launched its new construction-ready three-dimensional (3D) printer, Iroko, to improve construction speed, cost and flexibility, while scaling up digital automation to build resilient and affordable housing, education infrastructure and commercial real estate worldwide.

The Iroko 3D construction printers were co-designed and manufactured with construction equipment company PMSA. The printers' mobility and optimised assembly are key tenets of the design by 14Trees, it said.

The first Iroko printers are set to be delivered to customers in the fourth quarter of this year.

The printer's aluminium frame is quick to assemble and light yet robust, meaning that it can be mounted without cranes, and stored in a compact container, making transportation and deployment rapid and efficient.

The 14Trees printer is specialised for single- to two-storey residential and commercial applications and does not need extensions to enable smart construction.

“Construction 3D printing brings a transformative impact to people's lives. However, maximising the scale of impact requires a new generation of technological advancement. Iroko introduces performance advantages that enable multistorey construction and building with more reliability and mobility, thereby opening up global access to state-of-the-art construction methods no matter the terrain," the JV partners said.

Iroko is equipped with a multi-laser system controlling the print quality 50 times a second to improve the overall performance of the end-product and enhance operator safety. The new design is fitted with a material preparation and feed system, compatible with Holcim's ink, TectorPrint, and 14Trees' growing range of low-carbon inks, which lowers a building's carbon footprint by up to 70% compared to traditional processes, they noted.

This approach reduces carbon dioxide emissions typical to standard methods of cement production and contributes to the achievement of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals on industry, innovation, and infrastructure (SDG 9) and sustainable cities and communities (SDG 11).

Further, the real estate sector is responsible for 40% of greenhouse-gas emissions, with the bulk coming from manufacturing raw materials and packaging and for transportation.

14Trees is committed to reducing the carbon footprint of buildings by digitally optimising material use through a comprehensive climate monitoring system that measures and captures the ambient environment to provide the operator with actionable information during printing and in-depth data for retrospective analysis to improve the next build.

“As the global infrastructure sector experiences an industrial revolution, the construction space is under more pressure to boost performance, work towards a net-zero future, and fulfil the needs of an evolving real estate and housing sector,” said 14Trees MD François Perrot.

“Our 14Trees printer is a robust solution to maintain affordability and deliver on structural performance. We’re enhancing the sustainability and profitability of 3D printing for construction, which is a sector positioned for yield and growth,” he added.

“14Trees is shaping the future of construction. This innovation will help accelerate 3D construction printing around the world, fully aligned with Holcim’s mission to decarbonise building at scale,” said Holcim Europe region head Miljan Gutovic.

Further, 14Trees has delivered the world's first 3D-printed schools in Malawi and Madagascar. The walls of these projects were printed in less than 18 hours. The JV is currently building a 52-house complex in Kenya, which underscores the company’s plan to drive innovation in construction and further develop 3D printing technology in developing economies.

The 14Trees printer is designed to deliver a competitive commercial solution for contractors in multiple markets, thereby enabling long-term investment into the automated construction space. Iroko empowers the building of the world's critical infrastructure and forms part of 14Trees' plan to facilitate action with buildings that bring people together in a climate-resilient and inclusive way, it said.

Edited by Chanel de Bruyn
Creamer Media Senior Deputy Editor Online

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