The BuiltWorlds EAME Summit Pre-event series kicked off with a visit to our friends and member company, XtreeE Robotics, where we met with Jean-Daniel Kuhn, Co-Founder and Managing Director for XtreeE - a 3D printing robotics company.
XtreeE is helping construction companies create more sustainable structures and complete construction projects in a shorter amount of time than traditional methods by using 3D printing. Their 3D printer uses a mix of concrete and additives to create custom structures fast and at a lower cost to both contractors as well as the environment.
During the visit, we were treated to a live demonstration of their 3D printing robot and watched on as it printed concrete columns in the matter of minutes. (See video below)
XtreeE was founded in 2016 and in the company's short life, it has managed to make a large impact within the construction ecosystem. It's also expanded services outside of the traditional construction industry into projects that will help our oceans, launching a printing as a service (PaaS) solution, and even making high-end furniture.
The company was founded upon the vision of creating a lower-carbon world and has exemplified this in every project they've approached whether that project is 3D printing houses, creating bridges, or even in more non-traditional projects as well.
One example of a non-traditional construction project XtreeE has been involved in is the creation of synthetic coral reefs that are being used both in aquariums as well as our oceans. The projects goal is to help minimize and reverse the damage that global warming has cause to coral around the world.
Within the more traditional construction industry, XtreeE has also found itself making an impact on sustainability initiatives all while lowering the cost of construction to contractors.
XtreeE's unique and detailed designs allow the printer to create structurally sound products while also minimizing the amount of concrete needed.
Lowering Cost for Contractors:
Kuhn said nearly 98% of all major construction project incur overruns in delivery time and those time overruns lead to budget overruns. XtreeE's 3D Printing robot allows builders to create structures in a fraction of the time of traditional methods of construction.
Aside from the speed in the printing itself, XtreeE also utilizes off-site construction to help lower the amount of time and resources spent at the job site.
XtreeE is not only focused on the speed to the construction but also the quality. They use real-time monitors and sensors to track what's being printed and if there are any potential deficiencies within the design before the final delivery.
Lowering the Cost to the Environment:
In the context of lowering the cost to the environment, XtreeE's designs allow for a drastic decrease in the amount of materials (concrete) needed.
"The production of concrete causes nearly 8% of the global emissions", Kuhn said during our visit. Not only is the production of concrete putting an enormous strain on the environment, but in the EU alone there's nearly 461 million tons of construction waste per year - concrete attributing to a large portion of it.
XtreeE's unique honeycomb designs allow for structures that have the same strength and load-bearing capabilities of solid concrete structures, however, inside they're mostly hollow - which allows for far less concrete to be used. Kuhn hopes utilizing these designs that are now possible with 3D printing, there will be less of a need to use so much concrete in the built environment and in turn less emissions from producing concrete and less waste. "Creating lighter structures from the start created a domino effect where the support structures can also be lighter" he said.
The Future of XtreeE
XtreeE has ambitious goals and ideas to help the idea of 3D printing in construction grow and spread to an industry that desperately needs a change.
One of the company's larger goals is to bring 3D printing technology not only to building new construction, but to the rehabilitation of older structures. "Most of the buildings that will existing in 2050 are already here and built" Kuhn said. Inevitably those structures, and the ones that have came before, will all need rehabilitation.
Printing as a service solution
Another overarching goal of XtreeE is to create a Printing as a Service solution that would allow partners all over the world to leverage the 3D printers. By leveraging a library filled with parametric designs, users can manipulate designs that have already been created to fit their needs on most projects. Their current partnerships include locations in Japan, Dubai, US, France, and one being developed in Switzerland.