In pictures: Amsterdam's 3D-printed canal house

Amsterdam architects start printing a 3D canal house

Credit: IDG News Service/Loek Essers

Amsterdam firm DUS architects has started printing the first building blocks of a 3D-printed canal house.

Within three years, the house should be standing on this vacant lot in the north of Amsterdam.

Credit: IDG News Service/Loek Essers
Test building block

This is one of the first test building blocks already printed by the KamerMaker (Dutch for room builder), in front of the container-sized printer itself. The KamerMaker essentially works like a desktop version of the 3D Ultimaker printer, DUS architects said.

Credit: IDG News Service/Loek Essers
Inside the KamerMaker printer

It takes about a week to print one three-meter high corner stone of the canal house, said Hans Vermeulen, one of the co-founders of DUS architects. Eventually they would like to be able to reduce printing time to about two hours.

Credit: IDG News Service/Loek Essers
Cornerstone on the canal house

Here's one of the cornerstones of the canal house being printed by the KamerMaker. While just a few centimeters high, some errors in the honeycomb structure are already showing in the front. Those errors will be corrected when the piece gets higher, and they won't affect the strength of the structure, said DUS architects co-founder Vermeulen.

Credit: IDG News Service/Loek Essers
KamerMaker printer at work

The KamerMaker disperses a bioplastic called Macromelt at 175 degrees celsius. The material stabilizes within two seconds. DUS architects hope to speed up that process.

Credit: IDG News Service/Loek Essers
Crooked lines

The KamerMaker does not always print in a straight line. However, the errors will be compensated for during the process, DUS architects said. If a piece comes out totally unusable it can be shredded and recycled to make a new one with just a small addition of fresh raw material.

Credit: IDG News Service/Loek Essers
Macromelt

The raw material called Macromelt is developed by Düsseldorf, Germany-based company Henkel that manufactures adhesives for the electronics industry. The pellets are fed into the extruder of the KamerMaker in the control room. Only a few black pellets are enough to create a deep black color.

Credit: IDG News Service/Loek Essers
Finished test piece

One of the finished test pieces of the 3D canal house site is on display in the north of Amsterdam.

Credit: IDG News Service/Loek Essers
Honeycomb structure of one of the building blocks

The blocks will be filled with a foam that resembles concrete to strengthen the structure, Vermeulen said. The building will still be relatively light and will be fastened to the ground with a "herring-like structure" so it won't get blown away during a storm.

Credit: IDG News Service/Loek Essers
Rooms at scale

These are scale models of the 13 rooms that will make up the canal house. Each room will have a different purpose. The models are 1:100 scale test samples for the real house.

Credit: IDG News Service/Loek Essers
Scale model

This is a scale model of the 3D-printed canal house.

Credit: IDG News Service/Loek Essers
Finished impression

This is an impression of how the 3D-printed canal house could look when finished.