Taking shape: 3D printing revolution on the horizon


At Sika AG’s research facility in Widen, Switzerland, the nozzle of a 3D printer pumps out billowy concrete at one metre per second. The material cures almost instantly, just in time for the machine’s printing arm to deposit the next layer. In a steady, continuous movement, it brings a distinctive structure to life.

Gearing up to release its first commercial printer at the end of the year, Sika is one of several to industrialize the process. At volumes up to four tons per hour, the printer promises to push out concrete “so rapidly, inexpensively and precisely that it can be used on construction sites,” the company announced last June.

That volume is in another league compared to the majority of 3D printers on the market, which typically peak at 100 to 200 kilograms per hour, according to Frank Hoefflin, the company’s chief technology officer.


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