Thornton Tomasetti takes stake in construction 3D printing firm XtreeE
Emerges as a key player in the future of 3D printing in AEC
TTWiiN Investment Partners, the innovation investment arm of Thornton Tomasetti, a global leader in the design and optimization of structures and systems, is the latest investor in XtreeE, the Paris-based technology company focusing on large-scale 3D-printing solutions for the architecture, engineering and construction industry. Terms of the transaction were not disclosed.
XtreeE’s latest round of funding also includes investments from Shibumi International, a fully-owned subsidiary of Gulermak Heavy Industries, as well as an additional commitment from existing investor Vinci Construction.
“There is a huge misconception within the AEC industry that 3D printing is a technology only of the future,” said Ray Daddazio, president of Thornton Tomasetti. “We see it as a technology of today. We are pleased to help XtreeE pioneer new applications that will enable project teams to push the frontiers of design through digital fabrication. XtreeE is not only on the leading edge of this technology but has the capability to deliver optimized structures.”
Founded in 2015, XtreeE is a pioneer in large-scale additive manufacturing, primarily in concrete. The company assists clients with collaborative design and large-scale prototype manufacturing while providing access to its large-scale 3D printing systems. The company is currently helping to open a new production unit in the United Arab Emirates, where a major commitment to 3D printing aims to use the technology in 25 percent of new construction in the next six years, incorporating XtreeE technology and operated by Concreative. This opening is in line with XtreeE’s strategy of structuring a network of more than 50 globally connected 3D printing units by 2025. XtreeE is also teaming with Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG) architects on a new cultural project in North America to be unveiled later this year.
The 3D printing market is projected to reach $40 billion by 2027 from just $70 million in 2017, according to a report from SmarTech Analysis.
Thornton Tomasetti has been an early adopter of the technology. In 2015, the firm was part of the team that developed the Office of the Future, a 2,000-square-foot building in Dubai that was designed by Gensler and created using a 20-foot tall 3D printer from Chinese company Winsun. Other projects include a pavilion and public plaza designed by SHoP Architects that served as the entrance to the 2016 Design Miami Fair, a 20-foot tall by 42-foot-wide pavilion for Nashville, Tenn.’s LEED ND-targeted OneC1TY neighborhood, done in collaboration with architectural fabricator Branch Technology. The use of 3D printing technology goes beyond the future of terrestrial construction as well. In May, Thornton Tomasetti was also part of the AI Space Factory team that took first prize in the NASA/Bradley University Mars 3D Printed Habitat Challenge to develop autonomous 3D printed shelters for deep space exploration.
“3D printing has moved rapidly from R&D labs to the field, and we currently collaborating on multiple projects in the Middle East, Africa and North America with an emphasis on sustainability, practicality and affordability,” Daddazio said. “This investment in XtreeE by TTWiiN IP is yet another step in Thornton Tomasetti’s journey to toward becoming a global leader in innovation in the AEC industry.”
Established in 2017, TTWiiN Investment partners (TTWiiN IP) is an investment vehicle that supports emerging technologies from outside of Thornton Tomasetti’s development platform.