Bouygues to trial trailblazing 3D technology in Nantes

French construction giant Bouygues has announced that it is to build France’s first social housing unit using 3D printing later this year.

If all goes according to plan, the YHNOVA house, as it will be called, will be built in the northwestern city Nantes in September for social housing provider Nantes Métropole Habitat. It will have 95 sq m, five rooms and a distinctive curved floorplan.

The house will be constructed by Batiprint3D, a manufacturing robot patented by the University of Nantes. This is able to deposit three layers of material to form the structure. Two are made from expanding foam, which act as formwork for the third layer, which is concrete. Once the concrete has cured, the foam remains in place, serving as a double layer of insulation.

The robot is guided by a laser sensor, and uses a digital model of the house as its software.

The use of a mobile robot will enable the construction industry to build faster and to a higher quality. It will also allow contractors to limit the number of hazardous jobs, such as those involving heavy lifting and vibrating machinery.

Bouygues is not the first French construction colossus to engage with 3D printing. In February, Vinci took a stake in French start-up XtreeE to push large-scale additive manufacturing, and in 2016 Dutch firm BAM revealed a "building machine" that was able autonomously to move around a building site on its own and print stone or concrete buildings.

Bouygues recently announced it would use virtual reality headsets during safety training.

Images courtesy of Bouygues

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