The Big 5: Holland's TAM launches angular 9-axis 3D printer in the UAE

The machine can 3D print concrete in angular motions or slopes due to its two-component nozzle and quicky cured concrete

TAM's 9-axis 3D printer can print concrete in angular motions in a way that it is travelling up and down in slopes
ITP Media Group
TAM's 9-axis 3D printer can print concrete in angular motions in a way that it is travelling up and down in slopes

Netherlands-headquartered Twente Additive Manufacturing (TAM) has launched the first 9-axis 3D printer in the Middle East at The Big 5 – the construction mega-event being held on 25-28 November at the Dubai World Trade Centre.

The process of additive manufacturing, which involves the 3D printing of concrete – layer-by-layer – to construct a building, has been taken a step further with this printer as it is capable of bringing such designs to life that have not been previously possible by 3D printers.

Commenting on what the firm claims to be the second-largest 3D printer in the world, president at Twente Additive Manufacturing, Ian Comishin, said: “We have announced the launch of our 9-axis printer, which is capable of printing through 5m of reach, on 10m of track, and it can go 5m tall, which is roughly 550 cubic meters.”

Comishin refers to traditional 3D printing as 2.5D printing, stating that in conventional “2.5D printers”, every single layer is horizontal, which has a scalloping effect – with horizontal parallel layers printed one on top of the other.

This means that within traditional “2.5D printing”, there are shapes that cannot be made because of how the concrete has to sit on itself in layers.

In an exclusive conversation with Construction Week, Comishin said: “With the new printer, you can print in angular motions, which permits for 3D printing of designs that include overhanging. It can make components go in directions that they wouldn’t normally be able to go.”

“The printer has two prime features: it has a two-component nozzle that permits it to print at angles, and it cures the concrete very quickly, allowing for 3D printing off-axes. So, rather than printing 3D patterns in parallel horizontal layers, concrete can also be printed in a way that it is travelling up and down in slopes.”

According to TAM, this is also the first printer in the world that cures concrete so quickly that it can print multiple components non-stop, if required. This means that the first few components that are printed with concrete dry so quickly that they can be cleared out of the printer by the time it has begun printing the next few components.

Concrete formwork made using the 9-axis printer is also more cost-effective than traditional formwork.

“Any type of cement form that has compound curves – which means curves going in different directions, or curves that intersect each other – making those out of conventional formwork is almost impossible or is done at very great cost.”

“For example, the kind of designs that Zaha Hadid has done over the years are actually very difficult to make out of concrete because the nature of these different forms are not very conducive to working with plywood or steel or other rectilinear components,” Comishin said.

“Whereas with freeform 3D printing, you’re able to make all these components for almost the same cost as a straight component, and this is why it’s very cost-effective.”

With the 9-axis printer, TAM is looking to take up projects in the Middle East that have a one-of-a-kind design, and need to be constructed quickly and at low cost.

The printer provides the capability to build modular structures in phases off-site and have them put together at the construction site. It also offers the possibility to construct structures up to 550m3 on site.

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