COBOD lets engineers design their own concrete 3D printer with a new configuration app

COBOD, specialist in additive manufacturing for construction, has launched a new application that allows users to configure their own concrete 3D printer.

Aptly named the COBOD Configurator, the company’s software is designed to not only allow anyone with a computer or smartphone to virtually configure and simulate building a 3D printed home, but also to those with an eye for technology to experiment with its modularity, and reach out to put it into practice.

COBOD’s new construction 3D printer configuration app. Photo by COBOD.

The disruptive potential of BOD2

Over the past five years, COBOD has established itself as an early leader in the emerging field of construction 3D printing. To achieve its larger goal of disrupting the global construction industry, the company continues to develop its BOD platform, launching the BOD2 in 2018, a gantry-mounted 3D printer that it now ships in three iterations.

Each version of the system is made up of 2.5 meter modules, which can be stacked on its X, Y and Z axes to allow the erection of multi-storey structures, with floors up to a size of 12 m (W ) x 27m (W) x 9m (H). Newer models are also said to feature a redesigned tangential nozzle, which gives users greater control over the quality and texture of walls, reducing the need for post-processing.

In practice, the modular 3D printer has been applied to build structures of all shapes and sizes since erecting its first habitable 3D printed building in Copenhagen. For example, GE Renewable Energy and LafargeHolcim have pledged to use the technology to create a record-high wind turbine tower, while co-owner PERI has used it in several builds, including that of a German print building. In 3D.

More recently, COBOD has also entered into a partnership with Mexican building materials specialist CEMEX, which has produced a new concrete that “takes shape instantly”. Leveraging this new formulation, the companies have already built Angola’s first 3D-printed house and a three-bed house in Oman, which they claim is the biggest additive made from “real” concrete.

Users of previous and future versions can create through the COBOD configuration tool.
Users of previous and future versions can build through the COBOD Configurator tool. Picture via COBOD.

Accessible concrete 3D printing?

Using the COBOD Configurator for the first time, it is initially difficult to tell whether it is designed to meet the needs of its existing customer base or to attract the attention of an entirely new audience. Essentially, the software allows users to change the settings of a simulated BOD2 3D printer, before deploying their chosen setup to build an entire computer-generated house from scratch.

In the configurator, budding and skilled engineers can choose the width, length and height of their virtual, modular COBOD system. By doing so, users can build anything from a 2 x 2 x 2 module machine capable of erecting a 184 square foot apartment, to a full-fledged 5(W) x 20( W) x 4 (H), with the ability to produce three-story structures with a floor area of ​​up to 6,327 square feet.

For those looking for the most realistic representation of the BOD2 in action, the 3D printer itself, along with its concrete mixing facilities, pipe management setup and build volume indicator app, can also be turned off in the settings, but its simulation’ Neighborhood feature seems (on the surface at least) to be there for looks only.

Likewise, rather than allowing users to design and build their own home, the software limits them to building one it has already built, or a pre-designed model being worked on. While this can be a handy way for interested parties to understand what’s come before and offers a healthy range of use cases, it’s hard not to view the feature as a missed opportunity.

That being said, the app’s depth of configuration options should be more than enough to satisfy those with a passing interest in technology. Whether this plot will win over those with deep enough pockets to put what they’ve learned into practice is another matter, but as it stands, the software is at least a fun and visually engaging way to play games. learn construction 3D printing.

Available as a browser-based web application and apps on iOS and Android stores, the COBOD Configurator is now accessible for free.

A rendering of what the community of 100 homes will look like at street level.  Image via ICON.
A rendering of the 100-unit community planned by ICON. Image via ICON.

COBOD construction competitors

Although COBOD is undoubtedly one of the cutting edge of 3D concrete printing, the technology still has a long way to go before it can disrupt the traditional construction industry. The company doesn’t exactly have a monopoly on the process either, and companies like ICON have even managed to attract over $460 million in funding to fund the development of its own version of the technology.

At a less commercialized level, a large number of start-ups and university teams are also experimenting with additive manufacturing in concrete, yielding impressive results. In Japan, for example, Serendix Partners reportedly 3D-printed a spherical house in 24 hours, which is small but sturdy enough to meet the country’s demanding anti-seismic standards.

In Dubai, by contrast, green building specialist WASP 3D printed a coastal pop-up Dior boutique late last year, showcasing some of the fashion house’s collections. Using its proprietary Delta 3D printers, the company found it was able to lay down a combination of clay, sand and raw fibers in layers, to form a stable (but branded) edge store. of beach.

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Featured image shows the new COBOD Configurator app. Photo by COBOD.