Printed farms is a construction start up that has recently purchased the first COBOD BOD 2 printer in America. This gantry style system has been seen in Europe and was used by Kamp C to build a 2 story demo house there. The same system is also being used to build another 2 story home and also a 5 unit apartment complex.
I got the unique opportunity to be on site as Printed Farms began construction of their first building. The financier of the project decided their first build would be a 30×30 tractor shed. In Florida the hurricanes can have extremely high wind speeds. Fortunately the printed concrete is very sturdy with a strength over 5000 psi.
Although Printed Farms is a relatively new start up their founders Jim Ritter and Fredrik Wannius are not new to construction. They have financed construction projects across a range of uses and realized in that process how inefficient traditional construction models can be. Many of these struggles relate to organizing the large team of people that it takes to construct a building especially with the ongoing shortage of manual labor in many regions. Reducing manpower needed for the job is only a small part of the benefits realized with 3D printed construction technology. Data is everything and when you have a BOD 2 system plugged into a laptop onsite you have full control of the project at your fingertips.
The printer is equipped with various sensors to improve ease of use but it still requires some training to operate. If the ground or slab that you’re printing on is uneven, the BOD 2 is able to compensate for those irregularities, there is also a sensor in the extruder portion of the printer that alerts the concrete pump to send more through the hose. Generally the COBOD team would come out to train the print operator in person but due to typical 2020 complications the training process was completed online. Fredrik has become very competent with the massive 3D printer and feels like the online training was very good although he still collaborates with the COBOD team if he has any questions.
Printing outside exposed to the elements was a substantial feat achieved in this build. Many projects have needed protective tents surrounding them in order to maintain specific temperatures and humidity. When you need to build a temporary structure around an entire construction site things start to get expensive with the current solutions. Floridas natural climate allowed for this project to be completed outside.
Printed Farms has many fascinating projects in the pipeline that Fredrik discusses in the video. Although most of the printing is currently experimental, 3D printing in construction is at a transformative stage and soon its products will become consumer facing.