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Sustainable 3D Concrete Printing

24-01-2024
| Blog post
Sustainable 3D concrete printing

3D concrete printing is an environmentally friendly building method, which can be used for future-friendly construction. Learn all about 3DCP and sustainability on this page!

Sustainable 3D Concrete Printing

3D concrete printing is more environmentally friendly than traditional construction methods. The material used is often more sustainable than regular concrete, and the technique allows for less overall material usage. There is also less waste material, and there are options for local material development. 3DCP also relies on energy as opposed to fossil fuels, and the low print times make the technique energy-efficient. Additionally, by combining Prefabricated Prefinished Volumetric Construction (PPVC) with 3DCP, you’re able to construct modular, net-zero housing units.

Eco-Friendly Material

Even though commonly referred to as 3D concrete printing, the material that is used for printing is not concrete. Instead, we use mortar: a versatile building material commonly used in construction, which consists of additives like cement, sand, and water, that blend to create a paste-like consistency. At CyBe, we use our proprietary developed material: CyBe Mortar. A key element that sets our CyBe Mortar apart from traditional cement-based mortars is its CO2 emissions. In comparison with standard mortar, our eco-friendly material emits up to 32% less CO2 during production. The non-metallic material also contains minimal amounts of chloride and sulfate, ensuring the sustainable building material has minimal environmental impact. CyBe Mortar is also built to last, even in the most critical applications. This makes our prints more durable, with a minimal lifespan of 75 years. Our material’s unique properties make it more sustainable and durable than traditional materials. This way, every home printing with CyBe Mortar has a reduced carbon footprint and contributes to a more sustainable future.

sustainable 3D concrete printing
CyBe Mortar being supplied during a print
sustainable 3D concrete printing
Structure optimized for minimum material and maximum weight-bearing capacity, including draining cavities

Less Material Usage

On top of the material being more sustainable than traditional concrete, 3D printing also offers advantages in terms of material usage. The technique relies on parametric design for its models. In this 3D architecture software, parameters and variables are customizable and can be optimized for every individual design you make. This way, more complex and intricate elements can be created, which would be impossible with traditional construction. This property is leveraged to design structures in a resource-efficient manner by relying on complex geometric proportions and shapes that reduce material usage. This allows for resource-conscious designing, where every model is optimized to use the least possible amount of material. And this is not the only way the technique’s design method helps in resource reduction. Through this meticulous planning of the material placement within the design, the precise printing process minimizes waste material. In contrast, traditional construction often involves cutting materials to specific sizes on-site. By placing the exact required amount of material in the precise place in a controlled printing process, you’re able to reduce your waste material by up to 90%. By using exactly the necessary, reduced amount of material, additive manufacturing minimizes your depletable resource consumption, and with it, your environmental impact.

Energy Efficiency

As opposed to conventional construction, 3DCP does not require fossil fuels of any kind and solely relies on energy. Though energy usage can also be unsustainable, the faster timelines related to the method allow for very efficient energy usage. Using a 3D concrete printer, you’re able to print the walls of a home in just hours. This quicker construction has implications for sustainability as well. By not having to use energy-intensive equipment for as long, your energy consumption is reduced. Additionally to this effective energy usage, there is also a lower energy need for temporary facilities, as your building process will be finished quicker than with conventional construction. A home that is finished quicker can also be moved into sooner. For our homes, boasting an exceptional energy consumption rating, this means that the house can start contributing to energy efficiency through its operational phase sooner. 3D concrete printing allows you to reap the benefits of sustainable, efficient energy consumption through a quicker construction process.

Sustainable 3D concrete printing
The walls of this home were printed within a day
Sustainable 3D concrete printing
The CyBe GR

PPVC

In the domain of sustainable construction, PPVC tops it all. Prefabricated Prefinished Volumetric Construction is a modular construction method that can be used to construct housing units in a factory setting. These free-standing 3-dimensional modules will be built and completely finished off-site. By combining this modular housing concept with 3DCP, we’re able to build these housing units completely net-zero. Our CyBe Gantry Robot is optimized for off-site 3D printing, which is, in turn, beneficial for PPVC. Off-site PPVC allows printing in a controlled environment, enabling us to enjoy the ideal conditions for construction, leading to this net-zero modular construction. On top of that, these PPVC units hold another advantage regarding sustainability. The housing modules are circular: it is possible to reuse units after use. You can easily place additional units or even remove units from your home, and removed units can be refurbished and reused. This way, our net-zero modules circle back to a new occupant after the previous one no longer has a need for it. Residents can expand or scale down their home as they want, and the circular housing units can be reused, having no additional impact on the environment. By combining PPVC with 3DCP, we’re able to construct future-proof, modular, and circular housing units.

Material for 3D Concrete Printing

  • What printing materials can be used with your systems?
    We recommend printing with CyBe Mortar, which is tested and certified for its fast set time. Our Ready-Mix enables high-speed, high-quality printing. Our technology and smart printing allow us to print at a width of 40 mm, which reduces the necessary amount of print material. With our Partnership Program, CyBe Mortar can be made locally by mixing our concentrated CyBe PowerPack with locally sourced materials, such as cement, aggregates, and sand. You can, however, choose to work with your own material. We have plenty of partners choosing this approach, for various reasons. The disadvantage is that it is harder for us to help you if it goes wrong
  • How can I reduce material costs?
    Our standard print layer width is 40 mm, which conserves material. With our Local Material Development Program, we help our customers make CyBe Mortar locally by mixing our concentrated CyBe PowerPack with locally sourced materials, such as cement, aggregates, and sand. This reduces the costs of raw materials and transportation while maintaining the material’s quality and achieving an optimal print result.
  • Can I mix and use my own material with your system?
    You may mix and use your own developed material with our system. However, by doing so, we cannot guarantee the system’s proper response and functionality, which could fail due to clogging. We also cannot promise that the material will deliver the same high-quality print results as CyBe Mortar. Using your own material will void the system’s warranty.
  • What are the technical specifications of CyBe Mortar, such as strength and curing time?
    Once cured, our CyBe Mortar is stronger than traditional concrete. Our material hardens fast — between 3 and 25 minutes, depending on the type of mortar and the length of the print path. When printing wall elements with the CyBe Robot Crawler, a three-minute set-time is ideal. When printing complete apartment modules with the CyBe Gantry, a 25-minute set-time allows the material to stay wet long enough to create the proper adhesion. View the CyBe Mortar datasheet for a complete overview of the former material.