FAQ

PRINTER

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What is 3D construction printing?
3D Concrete Printing (3DCP) refers to an innovative technology that uses software to control the placement of materials in order to build a 3D object or structure without the need for a standard formwork. The most common placement process in 3D concrete printing relies on extrusion of cement-based composites – whether this is a mortar with fine aggregates or concrete with large aggregates. 3DCP promises to enable the production of complex geometries in a fully-automated setup while delivering advantages such as material savings, greater efficiency in the production of complex concrete products, new architectural insights and design strategies.
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Why 3D Construction Printing?
1. Global shortage of skilled labor in the construction industry is made more extreme by increased demand for construction work.
2. Worldwide increase in the cost of materials like steel and timber
3. Global shortage of affordable housing.

3DCP offers
1. Lower labor cost
2. Reduced risk of accidents
3. Increased level of precision
4. Higher speed of execution
5. Freedom of design
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How does a 3D construction printer work?
A 3D construction printer is a 3D printing system specifically developed and specialized for construction.
1. As with regular 3D printing, a digital model of the building is created using CAD software.
2. The digital model is converted into G-code and uploaded to the 3D printer.
3. A material delivery system is connected to the printer.
4. The printer then reads the G-code and lays down successive layers of the supplied material.
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What are the types of 3D construction printers?
The different types of 3D construction printers are the gantry system, robotic arm, and the delta system. Out of these the most used are the gantry system and robotic arm printers. Read why the gantry system is the superior choice of 3DCP technology by reading our article on the subject here.
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Which projects have been made with a COBOD 3D printer?
Our BOD2 3D construction printer has 3D printed houses, buildings, and structures. Visit our Projects & Partners page to see an overview of our partners and the projects they have done with our technology. We also recommend you follow our LinkedIn page to stay updated with the latest announcements and developments.
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What 3D construction printer suits my project?
Each project may require a different size of 3D concrete printer. For this you need to keep in mind two measures before selecting the 3D printer that fits you the best:

Print Area (PA) which is the area size (width x length x height in meters) of building you would like to print.

Installation Area (IA) which is the area needed for the BOD2 printer.

We encourage you to try out our COBOD Configurator in which you can build your own printer.
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What options or upgrades do I need for the 3D printer?
There are no hard requirements regarding the options or upgrades. Yet we recommend the following:

Tangential control (hardware & software) – enabling the print-head to always turn in the print direction. With tangential control square nozzles with flaps can be used to assure vertically more smooth surfaces.
Mixer pump/M-tec Duomix – including automated on/off, 20 meters (65 feet) hose for concrete, used for supplying materials to the printer.
Silo – min 3 mused for storing dry mortars/concrete materials
COBOD installation of the printer at customers location
COBOD Training (weekly price)
Setup & Maintenance kit – collection of tools to help setting up the printer, includes alignment laser and measure, different types of drill and wrenches to put the pieces together and more.
Printing kit – collection of tools to help with print jobs, includes tools such as spatulas, brushes, hammers, wrenches, print head stands and more.
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Is it possible to add more modules to the 3D printer later?
Yes, it is possible later on to add modules as the printers are modular, they can be upgraded at a later time. In addition to the new modules that have to be ordered, you will need an entire new and long enough set of cables (normal price around 20.000 euro). That means you can stay up-to-date with our technology.
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How quickly can the 3D construction printer print a structure?
Check out our COBOD Configurator for examples of printing time!

How fast you can print a certain structure depends on many factors, such as print/building size, material properties, operation workers’ experience and other project management factors.

It is also important to know about the wall design (single wall or double wall with cavity between the walls).

The printer has a maximum speed of 100 cm/sec. The ability use more or less of the full speed depends on the size of the pump, the materials to be used and other factors. We are regularly printing with a speed of 40 or 50 cm/sec.

Smaller buildings like a 50m2 3D printed house can be printed with our BOD2 3D construction printer in one day.
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Is it possible to 3D print 2 and 3 story buildings?
With our BOD2 printer, it is possible to 3D print houses and buildings up to 10 meters (32 feet) in the height, which allows for printing of 3 story buildings.

Several 2 story buildings and houses have been 3D printed with our technology - as references, check out PERI and KampC.
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3D Construction vs Traditional Construction
1. Reduced Cost
a.  3D construction printing addresses up to 45% of construction costs for residential housing
b.  Added cost savings for more complex structures.
c.  Lower labor costs
d.  Cheaper overall costs for large projects.
2. Speed – faster execution of projects compared to traditional construction with up to 20x productivity gains. As an example, GUtech 3D printed the walls of THREE buildings in eight days. Incredible speed.
3. Sustainability
a. Less waste – Print only what is needed, no cutting/carving of pre-cast elements
b. Less reinforcement – Eliminate reinforcement in pre-casted elements, instead print columns as load-bearing elements
c. New Materials – Enable the use of recycled materials in the walls when printing.
4. Freedom of design
With 3D printing, it is possible for architects to think outside of the box and move away from the current design constraints that are related to traditional construction. 3D printing presents the ability to introduce more freedom when it comes to applicable building designs.
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Do you need a foundation for the 3D printer?
Yes, the printer must be installed either on pre made concrete blocks/feet or can be mounted on existing concrete slab. See the specification sheet below.


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How is the 3D concrete printer maintained, and how often is it required?
It is important to clean the printer (wash out the concrete) after each print, as well as the parts where machine interacts with concrete. Typical daily cleaning takes 20-30 minutes.

Maintenance and cleaning schedules are found in the user manual, which we provide to our customers. The manual is very extensive and contains all the necessary information and detailed descriptions.
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How long is the setup time of the 3D concrete printer?
The time it takes to set up our printer depends on how much experience you have. A well-experienced team can set up the printer in less than 4 hours, and even less time when concrete bases are used for the installation. Larger printers (more than 4-5 modules in length and width) naturally require more time.
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How many people are needed to operate the 3D construction printer?
We suggest a team of 3-4 people. Initially, it would be good if there were more on the ground.
 
●          Printer operator, it is recommended that the operator has a good technical background and knows some 3d modelling. This person will be the main contact to the architects and it is his or her responsibility to make sure the printed structure is according to the drawings provided. Good knowledge about electronics and 3d printing in general as well. ( Recommended operator could have a background as an Architect - Civil engineer - 3d printing expert - Mechanical engineer)
●          Materials operator, we recommend someone with an engineering background and also physically fit. The role of this person will be preparing the batches and doing the initial material examination and testing (slump test, vain test). In addition, the person would also be responsible for adjusting the mix according to the printing conditions and coordinating with the printer operator
(Recommended Materials operator could have a background in Civil engineering, 3d printing expert, Mechanical engineer or Concrete and construction) 
●          Materials operator helper. This role is physically active to help with measurements and support the materials operator as well as help on cleaning and refilling the silos. (construction site experience) 
●          Hands-on helpers. On-site to help setting up the printer, hose, move around and ongoing printing visual inspection. It is also favourable if they can drive a boom loader to feed the batch plant with materials while printing (filling up the sand and aggregates ... etc.), flush the system and clean the equipment. (construction site experience)

The same team can also be trained to install and uninstall the printer on-site with the help of a crane.
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What is the 3D printer's lifetime?
Our BOD2 is the most tested and durable 3D construction printer on the market. At COBOD, we estimate that the BOD2 has a lifetime of 20 years, which is similar to other construction machines. However, it is worth noting that since the technology is still quite new, we have not yet experienced a printer coming to the end of its lifetime.

BUILDING

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How do I get a 3D printed house?
There are multiple ways for you to get a 3D printed house. As we are solely a technology provider, COBOD cannot 3D print you a house, however, depending on your location, we likely have customers that can. Visit our Projects & Partners page to explore our partners and customers. If you have specific plans, contact us, and we can connect you with a distributor or partner in your area, so your dream of owning a 3D-printed home can become a reality!
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What is the construction process when using a 3D construction printer?
This topic is covered in detail during training when you receive your printer. The process will vary from project to project, but the standard construction process consists of the following steps:
- Site preparations
- Printer installation
- Printing outline of slab / foundation
- Casting slab / foundation
- Printing walls for ground floor
- Installing deck
- Repeat for multi-story buildings
- Closing the house (roof, windows, doors)
- Finishing (paint, floors, electricity, HVAC)
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Is the foundation 3D printed?
In many cases it makes sense to print at least the outline of the foundation to ensure that it fits perfectly to the printed house. Afterwards it can be reinforced, filled and casted according to local code.
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How is thermal insulation achieved?
Thermal insulation depends on two factors:

The thickness of the insulation i.e. the distance between your outer and inner wall

The Lambda value (insulating property) of your insulation material. By combining these two factors you will get an R value, which needs to follow your local building code
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How is plumbing and electrical installed?
This will be done manually in the traditional way, however, the printer can help you with preparing for it by leaving holes in the printed walls for electrical sockets, pipes, etc. This is all done in the drawings, and ultimately saves time and costs of the project.

We have had countless plumbers and electricians tell us and our customers that they saved multiple days of work due to the considerations in the drawings.
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How are the walls of a 3D printed house finished?
The 3D printed walls can be finished just the way you want them. The walls can be plastered and painted like traditional houses and buildings. It is even possible to paint directly on the surface of the 3D printed walls.

Many of our customers actually like the raw look of the 3D printed walls, and therefore choose not to plaster them. By not plastering the walls, it shows the world that the building is in fact 3D printed. No matter what you choose, the walls will need a coating to repel dust and dirt from the outside environment.
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How are repairs and maintenance done for the walls?
Maintenance and repairs of walls will depend on which material was used for the given project, as well as what surface treatment was used (paint, plaster etc). Remember, the walls might be 3D printed, but they are still regular concrete walls.
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Do you provide support regarding building codes?
We do support to the extent it is possible, but due to vastly varying building codes depending on the country, you should always align your drawings and designs with a local structural engineer.
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How are windows and doors integrated?
Gaps for windows and doors are printed directly from the drawing. After printing, you can insert the type of windows and doors you want. The printer code is adjusted (done with our software) which means the printer stops and gives time to place lintels on which the printer will continue to print. In order to obtain good accuracy and thereby an even joint with respect to windows and doors, it is important to consider multiple factors during the initial design phase, such as; wall thickness and type, window span and height, windows sill, frame location (exterior and interior), and lintel design.
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Which is the tallest 3D printed building?
The tallest 3D printed building in the world is in Saudi Arabia. The building is a 3-story villa developed by Dar Al Arkan. Read all about it here.
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Which is the world's largest 3D-printed concrete building?
The largest 3D-printed building made of real concrete has been made by a group that incorporates the German College of Innovation in Oman (GUtech), Mexican cement producer CEMEX, and COBOD. The 190 square meter (2045 square feet) building is located in Oman.

Materials

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What materials are used for the 3D construction printer?
The BOD2 is an open source 3D construction printer. It can print with concrete, mortar, or any other printable material. This ensures the most cost-efficient materials, as raw materials can be locally sourced.
Read all about materials here.

COBOD do not believe in proprietary mixes as they are limiting and very expensive. A lot of our peers within the industry forces their customers to use proprietary mixes. This blows the flexibility and cost of any project out the water, making it virtually impossible to gain anything from it.
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What are the cost of 3D printing materials?
The cost of the materials depends on your local prices on cement, aggregates, sand, and other chemicals like accelerators. It is also dependent on your concrete mix design that you want to apply for your projects.

We always recommend our customers to use our material solution, D.fab, developed along with our partner CEMEX. This solution allows for 3D printing of real concrete as opposed to mortar, and enables material cost-savings of up to 90%. Our customers GUtech, Power2Build, and 3DCP Group all 3D printed real concrete using our BOD2 3D construction printer.
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What is the concrete/mortar setting time?
The setting time is strongly dependent on weather conditions and your mix design (additive proportions).

We use the term “layer time” to define the time from a layer that has been placed and until a new layer is printed on top. This time can be set in the software and must be adjusted to the specific material used for your project.

At COBOD we have printed with layer times from 1-20 minutes.
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What level of material guidance do you provide post purchase?
COBOD provides remote and onsite training sessions on 3D printable materials and material delivery system operations (COBOD’s batch plant and pump) as well as continuous support for clients through all the project phases.

Pricing

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How much is the BOD2 3D construction printer?
Complete our contact form to request a price list of our state-of-the-art 3D construction printing products.
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What is the shipping cost?
Due to current disruptions in global distribution networks we cannot provide a good, average estimate. Note that all of our offers are ex-works and it is our customers’ responsibility to handle logistics when purchasing a printer. However, we can assists you in retreiving a quote and can connect you with one of our logistics partners.
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What is included in the price of the 3D construction printer?
Included in the printer cost is a complete printer with all the necessary parts to print:
The printer (control panel (ebox + hmi), printhead, signal lamp, Hose management system, printhead incl. 2 printhead cameras), printhead stand, loose part pallet consisting of: 2x 50x40 steel nozzles, 2x 80x30mm steel nozzles, ekstra U-cable, ethernet cable, calibration blocks, emergency stop remote, drill guides, router (+ sample kit d.fab 20m3, hvis man vælger concrete), power cable.

After buying a printer, we provide 14 months warranty from delivery and 2-year “hotline” guidance for up to one hour per issue to assist with troubleshooting.

You can print with the printers as is, as materials can be fed by buckets to the print head. However, this will be a slow process. To print with speed you will need a pump and mixer, and preferably a silo for the materials storage, which you can acquire at us or elsewhere. If we supply it, we will assure they are delivered with the entire materials flow (from silo over the mixer to the pump and up to the printer) is digitally controlled, such that the feeding of the materials to the print head is managed by the printer itself and does not require an operator to get involved.
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Do you have examples of project cost overviews?
We do not have full overviews of project costs, as COBOD is not the contractor on any 3D construction printing projects. However, for the projects printed with the D.fab material solution (GUtech, Power2Build, and 3DCP Group), the material costs were 1300 euros on average. This is a significant cost-saving from printing with expensive mortars.
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What are the cost benefits of using the BOD2 3D construction printer?
There are many benefits to our technology, including cost.
The cost advantage mainly stems from the lower labor usage and the faster completion of a project, in addition to assuring fewer mistakes and need for coordination, as the printer takes care of many operations. The speed with which you can print and execute a project will depend on your previous experience. Hence, you will be much more efficient once you have done it a few times. Very similar to how you learned to drive or ride a bike for the first time.

Terms and conditions

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Is it possible to rent a 3D construction printer?
Unfortunately, we do not offer rentals for our customers. However, a local distributor in your area might offer rentals of their COBOD technology. Fill out our contact form, and we'll put you in contact with the right people.
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What is the delivery time?
4 to 5 months of delivery time.
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What support do you provide for the first project?
We provide support for our customers on their first project. From delivery, we offer 2-year “hotline” guidance for up to one hour per issue to assist with troubleshooting.
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How long does training take?
Level 1 training (online)
Our L1 (Level 1) training takes place before the arrival of the 3D printer and COBOD personnel assigned the initial installation and on-site L2 training.
The L1 training is divided into 5 separate modules of 2.5 hours with a COBOD specialist on each specific topic, to prepare your team as much as possible before using our equipment. Below you will find all materials used for the training, including Modelling for 3DCP, COBOD Slice, Printer installation and Operation, 3DCP Materials, and Material Delivery System (MDS).

Level 2 training (on site)
Our Level 2 training is delivered on-site from our 3D printing specialists.
The program takes 2 weeks and includes installation, operation and maintenance training for the 3D printers and for our concrete mixing and pumping equipment.

All customers receive access to our online customer platform COBOD Connect. On here, our customers have access to all resources imaginable.
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Is there a warranty?
We offer 14 months warranty from delivery and 2-year “hotline” guidance for up to one hour per issue to assist with troubleshooting. Alterations, additions, and changes to the printer, which are not approved by COBOD will forfeit the warranty, such changes include the removal or covering of logos and other trademarks on the printer. Operations of the printer in ways and with materials not recommended by COBOD will forfeit the warranty and 2 years of “hotline” support.
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