We received new information from COBOD regarding the progress of their BOD2 construction 3D printer.
Construction 3D printers are essentially CNC-style concrete extruders, capable of quickly printing solid walls and foundations in unusual patterns not easily done using conventional mold-style construction methods.
The unfortunate aspect of construction 3D printers has been the habit of many participants to boast of “3D printing entire houses in 24 hours!!!!” Unfortunately, this is entirely false, as these devices simply lay down the concrete and don’t achieve anything on the remainder of the construction project such as HVAC, plumbing, electrical, windows, cladding, painting, flooring, finishing, and, well, you get the idea. It’s just about the concrete.
One of the companies that does not engage in the overhyped practices of their competitors is COBOD, a Danish company that produces a large device known as the BOD2. This enormous 3D printer can be scaled to a variety of sizes and is able to successfully 3D print concrete structures within its build volume. Recently they provided some additional information about their progress.
It seems they have sold seven BOD2 devices. This may sound like a terribly small number as compared to the sales of desktop units, it is actually quite significant. They say you either make money by selling many inexpensive units or by selling few expensive units. COBOD falls into the latter category.
They add that they believe they have sold more construction 3D printers (seven) than any of their competitors. This is also a significant finding, as it suggests few, if any other construction 3D printer manufacturers are succeeding.
COBOD also told of their printing speed, which is apparently a maximum of 100cm per second on the BOD2 in ideal conditions. However, they reasonably explain that this has not been achieved due to “limitations caused by materials and pumping equipment”, and that their maximum achieved print speed thus far has been 40cm per second.
Still, 40cm per second is quite rapid and COBOD believes it is the fastest in the industry. Of course, the print speed should probably be measured in volume, not linear speed, as different systems may extrude different layer thicknesses. Nevertheless, BOD2 can print pretty fast.
Interestingly, some of their speed constraints are regulatory in nature. In one job site they had to constrain the print speed to only 25cm per second due to the EU robotics directive that requires safety fences to surround operations if higher speeds were used.
One interesting feature of the BOD2 is its modularity. It can be built in varying sizes by simply adding more modules, each of which is a 2.5 meter cube. The BOD2 can be configured as wide as 6 modules (15m), as high as 4 modules (10m) and there is no limit to the length, as long as you can pay for additional modules. Thus it seems that the BOD2 can 3D print house-sized structures.
COBOD also indicates they have optimized their setup procedure, which is required to establish the BOD2 in place for a large print job. They have reduced the setup time to only four hours by using pre-made concrete feet.
Finally, the company put on a bit of a show of the BOD2 while attending a recent construction trade show. In an unprecedented act, they set up a small BOD2 on the trade show floor and actually 3D printed a small concrete structure live, in front of attendees.
Henrik Lund-Nielsen, CEO of COBOD explained:
“It is so easy to video film a 3D construction printer in action and then edit out anything unplanned occurring during the printing to produce a nice looking video in the end. There are so many examples out there with heavily edited and manipulated content, far from what is happening with the same printer in real life printing. When you print live, it is not possible to hide anything. With this live printing we are documenting, that our technology has the quality, robustness and stability to perform hour after hour, day after day. We plan to print the walls of a small house each day just during the opening hours of the exhibition, and everybody is invited to follow the process.”
I believe that is a very good move by COBOD, as the construction 3D printing field is littered with questionable players and one must do extraordinary acts to raise above the reputation of this industry niche.