14Trees launch 3D printer for construction in Africa

Holcim and British International Investment's partnership 14Trees has launched Iroko, a new 3D printer to build sustainable homes and schools across Africa

14Trees, a partnership between Holcim and British International Investment (BII), has announced the launch of its new construction-ready 3D printer, Iroko

Specialising in single to two-storey residential and commercial buildings, the printer aims to improve construction speed, cost, and flexibility. The project is part of efforts to scale up digital automation and build resilient and affordable housing, education infrastructure and commercial real estate worldwide.

14Trees was founded in Africa and is working to revolutionise the future of construction, contributing to the delivery of social infrastructure, affordable houses, schools and workplaces that improve well-being, support livelihoods and bring people together.

The 3D printed revolution: Technology that reduces carbon emissions

With the continued rise of 3D printing, it is interesting to consider how it can be used as a tool to break away from current architectural constraints. It can allow construction to refocus its activities on imagination and creativity, while reducing the ecological and financial cost of construction.

14Trees is continually committed to reducing the carbon footprint of buildings. This innovative approach to technology hopes to reduce CO2 emissions compared to standard methods of cement production, contributing to the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals on Industry, Innovation, and Infrastructure (SDG 9) and Sustainable Cities and Communities (SDG 11).

Designed for easy mounting and transport, Iroko states that it is an affordable 3D printer as it has a lower use cost. It is equipped with laser systems to control print quality and ensure good print quality 50 times per second. 

Ikoro also prides itself on being very mobile and can be easily transported and deployed, fitting into a single container for ease.

Abhinav Sinha, Managing Director and Head of Technology and Telecoms at BII said: “We are thrilled by the ground-breaking milestone that 14Trees has achieved to innovate 3D construction methods in Africa. 

“This latest innovation will help to increase the availability of affordable housing, which is urgently needed on the continent, and also to decarbonise the construction sector. This goes to the heart of our mandate which is to create  productive, sustainable and inclusive outcomes and improve the lives of people in Africa.”

Transforming lives with critical infrastructure

3D printing also has great potential to change people’s lives through the building of critical infrastructure, with affordable housing and schools.

In particular, Team4UA and 3DCP Group partnered to build the first 3D printed school in Lviv, Ukraine as part of the country’s reconstruction efforts. The project was described as a blueprint for how construction companies can continue using advanced technology to tackle social issues.

14Trees aim to adapt designs to the needs of the client to ensure that houses remain simultaneously affordable and are more environmentally friendly.

The company has also built the first 3D printed schools in Africa and produced homes and schools with low carbon products in countries like Kenya and Malawi. It has also developed a wide range of school designs that are suited for eco-friendly and user-friendly school construction. 

14Trees’ plan is to ultimately drive innovation in construction further and develop 3D printing technology in developing countries worldwide. It is expected that the printer will be delivered in Q4 2023.


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