In May I had the incredible opportunity to visit with Cobod in Copenhagen Denmark at their headquarters and manufacturing facility. Regular viewers of my platform will be familiar with Cobod from my videos with Printed Farms in Florida where they built Floridas first 3D printed building, a 30×30 garage.
Cobod has sold many printers globally and their current system, the BOD 2 offers many improvements and upgrades from their previous BOD 1 system. Notable clients of Cobod include GE, L&T construction, Kamp C Peri, Printed Farms, and many more. Peri is not just a client but also an early investor of Cobod and a licensed distributor of the printing system. Of all the users of the Bod 2 system Peri has completed the most prints, the largest prints, and the most innovative prints including a 5 bedroom building in Beckum, Germany and a 5 unit apartment building in Wallhausen, Germany both of which I had the chance to visit during my time in Europe and I was quite impressed. Not only did I get to visit these projects but I also was able to tour them with the head architect from Mense-Korte who designed the 5 bedroom house and a co-owner of Rupp construction, the owner/developer of the 5 unit apartment building. These videos can be seen below along with my visit to Kamp C in Belgium where they printed the first 2 story building in Europe with a team of students. I also did a video of the Bod building near the Cobod facility showcasing the design with architect Alma Bangsgaard Svendsen.
The BOD 2 is a modular gantry system that can get quite large. This system allows for onsite or offsite printing. Depending on location and size the printer takes about 4 hours to set up and take down requiring a crane or all terrain forklift to lift each module into place. Operating the system is quite similar to a typical 3D printer and the team at Printed Farms was able to learn enough to complete their 30×30 garage through only virtual training.
The Cobod team was quite welcoming, all the employees seem very excited to be working on such revolutionary technology and are quite passionate about their work. While staying with Cobod they also had a materials PHD named Nikolaos Katsiotis visiting from Greece, it was great getting his perspective on the materials side of the concrete printing world as well.
I was interested to hear from Fabian Meyer-Brötz that the printed apartment building in Wallhausen was very well received by the community. I have had a lingering fear that some people would not appreciate the modern design or printed layers simply because it is different, historically people have been afraid of change but in the case of these 3D printed houses that does not seem to be the case. Most marvel at the exciting prospects the technology offers in the form of automation. Even the contractors working for Rupp seemed very excited to be working on such an innovative project despite most of their construction activities being similar to a typical job site. In the 5 unit apartment building people were so excited to work on the project that subcontractors and furnishing companies offered their services and products without cost just for the sake of having their work showcased in a futuristic project. Neither Bekum nor Wallhausen was particularly known for being futuristic so if the projects were so well received in those cities then I would imagine there will be similar reactions all over the world.
The excitement over these projects can’t last forever but it doesn’t appear to be slowing down any time soon. There is still so much discovery to do in terms of what construction automation technology is capable of and every project yields new opportunities and learning experiences that will contribute to the improvement of buildings to come. Everyone I’ve talked to who contributed to building a 3D printed concrete structure always has the perspective that future projects will be substantially more efficient both in terms of time, material usage, and cost. The first projects have a learning curve, both Mense-Korte and Peri had the impression that if the same buildings were to be printed again they would be somewhere between 10% and 20% more efficient than the first try. That margin of improvement will continue to get better as everyone involved advances on the learning curve. Stay posted because there are some super impressive Cobod projects underway that I will be visiting once I return back to the United States!