While visiting the Netherlands for this week’s Nuclear Security Conference, American President Barack Obama paid a visit to the Rijksmuseum to take a look at a model of the Canal House, which is currently being 3D printed in Amsterdam. Alongside Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte and Amsterdam mayor Eberhard Van Der Laan, the President inspected both a scale and a full size replica of the project.
You might already have heard of Canal House – we touched on it recently in our piece regarding how 3D printing might affect the construction industry. For those that don’t know, the 3D Print Canal House is a tall, narrow building being constructed from 3D printed blocks by Dutch firm DUS Architects.
Based on the houses built by rich merchants in the city centuries ago, Canal House is being printed using a 20 foot tall device called the Kamermaker (that’s Dutch for Room Builder). This machine has the precison, size and capabilities to print giant plastic blocks, up to 400 lbs, in plastic that are then slotted together. The blocks are filled with a foam material that hardens inside, giving them crucial extra weight.
Thanks to the precise customisation that 3D printing allows, designers can create each room with its own specific features and concept before they are bound together under a singular 3D printed exterior. As it has all been fitted together, it can be dismantled and relocated too.
According to Hedwig Heinsman of DUS Architects the goal of the project is discovery. Rather than be a blueprint for how houses will be made in the future, the Canal House is more about trial and error, as DUS find out and display what, exactly, additive manufacturing can mean for the construction industry.
Potential benefits could be the elimination of transport costs, the ability to recycle raw materials and a much deeper level of personalisation and customisation in terms of the structures that can be built.
That Obama took an interest in the project is no surprise. The President made very positive sounds about 3D printing in last year’s State of the Union Address, saying:
Last year, we created our first manufacturing innovation institute in Youngstown, Ohio. A once-shuttered warehouse is now a state-of-the-art lab where new workers are mastering the 3D printing that has the potential to revolutionise the way we make almost everything.
Meanwhile, anybody who would like to take a look at the Canal House construction site can do so for a fee of just €2.50 (about two quid).