After winning its spurs with small items in unexpected areas such as food, 3D printing is now moving into house construction. In early 2017, VINCI Construction forged a partnership with and acquired a stake in XtreeE, a French start-up and a world leader in 3D concrete printing. In China, a 10-metre long, 40-metre wide “printer” has manufactured 10 houses in 24 hours. The technique is always the same – the object is produced in layers with the robot making successive passes – but the material is different from one experiment to another. In Russia, a 38 sq. metre house was produced using concrete, and in Amsterdam, wall panels were produced using bioplastics and then assembled like Lego pieces. Low cost and production speed are currently driving the use of the technology to produce emergency housing. But that is just the beginning of the move to print houses.

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