Concrete 3D Concrete Printing Article Architect Contractor

3D concrete printing (3DCP) is a form of cementitious, additive manufacturing used to fabricate buildings, houses or construction components in completely new shapes not previously possible with traditional concrete formwork. Sika offers Sikacrete® 3D material solutions for printing concrete rapidly, precisely, and inexpensively according to your project needs.

Image above: Affentranger 3DCP

Expertise in 3D Concrete Printing

 

Digitalization in Construction

Traditional reinforced concrete has been used for decades as an economical construction method. A shift is happening with the implementation of digital technology. As interest in digital tools and processes grows, so too the interest is increasing to use 3D concrete printing (3DCP). Digitalization is the driver aiming to improve productivity and save time, while offering something truly unique.

Many entrepreneurs and institutes see the potential to use additive manufacturing or 3D printing in construction. There is increasing demand from owners, architects, engineers, and contractors who can imagine the design flexibility and potential.

Sika aims to link this passion for 3DCP by offering innovative 3D concrete printing materials and solutions.

Close up texture of Sika 3D concrete printed element
Image: Affentranger 3DCP
Sika Besix 3D concrete printed office building facade panels
Image: Besix

 

 

"Digitalization is changing every aspect of construction and the entire life cycle of a building, from the design process and automated construction all the way to maintenance." Frank Höfflin (Head Operations, Quality and EHS at Sika)

How Does 3D Concrete Printing Work?

Patented print head developed by Sika for 3D concrete printing
Image: Pikus
  1. A print head/nozzle is mounted onto a robot arm or gantry.
  2. The print head/nozzle is connected to a pump with a hose pipe.
  3. The components of the material are mixed.
  4. The mix is pumped into the print head/nozzle.
  5. Lines are extruded on top of each other.
  6. Additions or admixtures can be added to alter the properties of the mix.

What Equipment is Needed?

Sika’s 3D concrete printing technology allows complex geometries to be realized economically
Image: Pikus
  • Positive action pan mixer for cementitious materials
  • Pump for conveying fresh mixed material continuously
  • Sufficient length of pipe to connect the pump and print head
  • Robot arm or gantry, including control software
  • Print head/nozzle
  • Suitable software for translating a 3D computer model into a machine program, often referred to as slicing

What Type of Objects Can Be 3D Printed?

The possibilities are endless when it comes to 3D concrete printing. It allows you to create custom objects not feasible with traditional concrete casting methods. They can be smaller components like architectural furniture, or large-scale, fully-printed buildings and civil infrastructure. Sika has experience with all types.

Le Pavillon 3D concrete printed on site building in France with Constructions 3D
Image: Constructions 3D
On-site printing
3D concrete printed curved columns
Image: Affentranger 3DCP
Infrastructure & civil engineering
Sika and Affentranger 3D concrete printed formwork
Image: Affentranger 3DCP
Formwork
Sika Besix 3D concrete printed office building facade panels
Image: Besix
Facade elements
Sika Besix 3D concrete printed modular building
Image: Besix
Modular building
3d concrete printed column
Image: Affentranger 3DCP
Building components
Close up repeated texture pattern of Sika 3D concrete printed element
Image: Affentranger 3DCP
Architectural walls
3D concrete printed stairs steps with railing
Image: Affentranger 3DCP
Stairs
3d concrete printed bench and curved forms
Image: Pikus
Outdoor Furniture
3d concrete printed curved table base with glass surface
Image: Pikus
Indoor Furniture
red 3d concrete printed column mushroom precast component
Image: Affentranger 3DCP
Colored concrete
Sika’s 3D concrete printing technology allows complex geometries to be realized economically
Image: Pikus
Customized projects

Sika Products

Sika offers comprehensive Sikacrete® 3D solutions for printing concrete rapidly, precisely, and inexpensively according to your project needs. With a global footprint in over 100 countries and more than 100 years of history in cement and admixture technology, Sika can support you around the world to start or improve your 3D concrete printing business. In addition to 3DCP products and technical support, we have a wide range of solutions to add value to your entire project.

Sika is actively seeking partners to develop materials which work with different types of 3D concrete printing equipment. Contact us today.

Are You Getting Started in 3D Concrete Printing?

Close up texture of Sika 3D concrete printed tall tower element
Image: Affentranger 3DCP

Two-Component 3D Concrete Printing is for You

2K or 2-component is used to refer to the number of modules in a material to make a product. Sika’s award-winning 2K system is a gantry equipment and accelerated printing materials together in a unique turn-key solution fully
developed by Sika. This is an automated system utilizing several existing Sika technologies to produce very fast, precise, and high-quality printing.

The gantry system was developed by Sika and is fabricated under license with one of our partners. It consists of:

  • Patented mixing station
  • Pump
  • Gantry
  • Patented printing head
  • Computer and software

 

Also available from Sika are the only compatible Sikacrete®-7100 3D printing materials specially developed with the Sika 3DCP gantry equipment.

Your Benefits

Industry-Ready
  • Saves time on choosing, ordering, setting up and testing materials, while allowing you to concentrate on the business and sales
Technical Support
  • Sika know-how for printing materials, CAD, technical design, operator manuals, training, and updates
  • Additional network to the construction industry
High Quality
  • Small grain size for a smooth finish in light grey or optional colors to enhance your product
  • Very high standard of printing
Increased Productivity
  • Automated process requires less labor than traditional concrete casting techniques
  • No formwork
  • Immediate setting means the objects can be moved within a short time after printing
  • Long pot life of the mix means the production process can be paused and restarted easily
Add-Ons
  • A range of Sika products which can add value to your product proposition
Close up texture of Sika 3D concrete printed element
Image: Affentranger 3DCP

Sika Solution and Advantages

Sikacrete®-7100 3D consists of a cementitious powder with fibers and liquid polymer which is combined with water in the mixing station. Additional colors can be added to enhance the appearance. An activator is added in the print head which provides setting on demand.

  • High compressive strength
  • Fast printing speeds
  • Adjustable setting time
  • Long open time
  • Printing at angles

Are You Already into 3D Concrete Printing?

Le Pavillon 3D concrete printed on site building in France with Constructions 3D
Image: Constructions 3D

One-Component 3D Solutions Available

Sika provides cementitious materials for printing objects with your equipment.  There are numerous types of mixers, pumps, and robotics on the market. To achieve a successful print, the equipment and material must work together. All these factors play a significant role in achieving optimal results of the finished concrete. Sika works with our partners to evaluate the print quality and find ways to improve it. 

Types of information we can discuss:

  • What type of equipment do you use?
  • What type of objects do you print?
  • What line widths, heights, printing speed and ambient temperatures are you working with?
  • What are your open time, setting time, strength and performance requirements?
  • Do you have any special requirements e.g., testing, colors, maximum grain size, packaging?

 

Your Benefits

Technical Support
  • Help and assistance from local Sika organizations, with know-how in cementitious technology, 3DCP applications and knowledge of the construction industry
  • Support with laboratory testing
High Quality
  • Small grain size for a smooth finish in light grey
Increased Productivity
  • Accelerated products for building and stacking higher layers to improve output
Add-Ons
  • A range of Sika products which can add value to your product proposition

Sika Solution and Advantages

Sikacrete®-751 3D and Sikacrete®-752 3D are one-component products which need to be mixed with water.

  • Accelerated products
  • Highly thixotropic
  • Ready-to-use by adding water
  • Low shrinkage
  • Small grain sizes for less equipment wear

1K 3DCP Process

Illustration of 3D concrete printing steps design - splicing 3D design in computer screen 3D software
Design
Illustration of 3D concrete printing steps dosing - bag of mortar mix being dosed into concrete mixer machine
Dosing
Illustration of 3D concrete printing steps mixing - concrete mixing machine
Mixing
Illustration of 3D concrete printing steps pumping - machine printer pumping mortar ink
Pumping
Illustration of 3D concrete printing steps extrusion - machine printer extruding mortar ink
Extrusion
Illustration of 3D concrete printing steps curing - printed elements dry in space protected from rain and weather
Curing

Do You Need Additional Products?

Concrete being poured

 

A Full Range of Compatible Solutions

Sika has a range of compatible products to enhance and improve your entire 3D concrete printing project including concrete admixtures, filling, grouting, leveling, protection, sealing, bonding, strengthening and fixing.

What's Been Printed with Sika

Sika's Partners

If you would like to benefit from partnering with a global player in 3D concrete printing technology, get in touch with Sika today.

Pikus 3D Concrete
LCA Automation logo
Affentranger 3DCP logo
Constructions 3D logo
Besix 3D logo
Titan Cement Group logo
Hyperion Robotics logo
Print 4D logo
Twente Additive Manufacturing logo
Vertico logo

Frequently Asked Questions

Is there an email newsletter I can sign up for to receive updates on Sika's 3D concrete printing?

Currently, we do not have a newsletter, although we are active on social media.

Does Sika sell 3D concrete printers?

Sika does not sell 3DCP equipment. We have developed a gantry printer and license the construction to an equipment manufacturer. For more information, please contact us.

How can I do feasability studies to compare 3D concrete printing to traditional construction methods for my project?

Costs associated with 3D concrete printing are best discussed with equipment suppliers. The cost of traditional construction methods very much depends on the costs of materials and labor in your geographical area. A local contractor can possibly assist you to make the comparison.

Is it possible to use local materials and concrete with 3D concrete printing?

Sika has worldwide production factories.  Where possible, we would like to produce locally to reduce transportation costs and time. If you would like to use local concrete to 3D print, Sika can also assist with pre-testing the concrete using Sika admixtures.

Does Sika sell concrete or cement admixtures suitable for high resolution 3D concrete printing?

Yes, Sika has a range of concrete admixtures and mortar additives that can help to improve the printing consistency according to the project requirements.

Does Sika support with concrete mix design for custom 3D concrete printing needs?

Yes, Sika can help support with concrete mix design. This is our daily business to support ready-mix and precast concrete manufacturers.

Would Sika partner with researchers and universities in 3D printing technology?

Sika partners with many institutions carrying out research. Please contact us to see how we can partner together.

Contact Us

Contact Sika to Inquire About This New Technology

Whether you are an architect who wants to revolutionize your design with 3D concrete or a contractor who wants to get started in 3D concrete construction, Sika’s technical experts can advise you.

Please fill out the contact form below.

Close up texture of Sika 3D concrete printed element
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