3D printing is transforming the construction sector and will be deployed in Africa to help build affordable and low-carbon housing and schools.
14Trees, a LafargeHolcim joint venture with UK impact-investor CDC Group, is deploying 3D printing technology in Africa to build affordable and low-carbon housing and schools in Malawi.
According to a press release, this technology reduces the carbon footprint for building new homes by up to 70%. By pioneering this technology in schools for the first time, they are aiming to address the country’s chronic infrastructure shortage while creating skilled local jobs.
“I am very excited about the work of our joint venture, innovating in 3D printing technology to accelerate affordable and sustainable building, from homes to schools,” said the region head Middle East Africa, Miljan Gutovic. “This is a great example of our commitment to build for people and the planet. Starting in Malawi, we will deploy this technology across the broader region with projects already in the pipeline in Kenya and Zimbabwe.”
It is said that cutting-edge technology will hopefully have a tremendous developmental impact on Malawi and the wider region as this innovative 3D printing process will significantly reduce the time and cost of building housing and schools in Malawi.
The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) estimates a shortage of 36 000 classrooms in Malawi which would take 70 years to build using conventional methods. According to 14Trees, this infrastructure gap could be bridged in just ten years using 3D printing.
The project in Malawi relied on local 14Trees teams trained by LafargeHolcim and COBOD, the 3D printing specialists. The teams included 3D machine operators, architects, civil and structural engineers and materials specialists. The project also involved nearly 40 people in the preparation of the 3D ink and in the construction with building trades such as carpenters, roofers and painters.
The walls of 14Trees’ first prototype house were built in Lilongwe in just 12 hours, compared to almost 4 days using conventional methods. The walls of its first school, built in Salima, were printed in just 18 hours, as opposed to several days. You can watch the interesting process over here: