AM ResearchConstruction 3D Printing

UJ completes South Africa’s first 3D printed building

The structure was printed on the University of Johannesburg's Doornfontein campus, using a CyBe Robot Crawler

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The University of Johannesburg (UJ) has completed South Africa’s first-ever 3D printed building, thanks to a collaborative effort between UJ’s Department of Architecture and Design and the Department of Science and Innovation (DSI). Utilizing a CyBe Robot Crawler and a cement-based material, the one-room structure was printed on UJ’s Doornfontein, Johannesburg, campus, in under eight hours.

The process was overseen by a team of experts, including the outgoing UJ Vice-Chancellor and Principal Professor Tshilidzi Marwala. “This is among the last projects that will be rolled out during my tenure as Vice-Chancellor of this University, and it is one I am particularly excited about!” said Professor Tshilidzi Marwala.

The University of Johannesburg (UJ) completes South Africa's first 3D printed building using a CyBe Robot Crawler.
Source: CyBe.

Speed and affordability

3D construction printing offers noteworthy speed and cost-effectiveness – significantly outperforming traditional construction methods. “The interesting thing is you can print a house in eight hours, the quality is excellent, and the product is cost-effective,” said Professor Jeffrey Mahachi, head of the Civil Engineering and The Built Environment School at UJ.

Dr. Khululekani Ntakana, a lecturer at UJ, noted that the technology is still in its early stages, with ongoing research and development expected to further enhance its capabilities in the future.

The University of Johannesburg (UJ) completes South Africa's first 3D printed building using a CyBe Robot Crawler.
Source: CyBe.

The future of South African construction

The completion of the 3D printed building represents a significant step forward for the South African construction industry, showcasing the potential for rapid, efficient, and high-quality construction using the technology. This innovative approach may help address South Africa’s housing shortage by offering affordable and sustainable housing solutions.

Dr. Blade Nzimande, South Africa’s Minister of Higher Education, Science, and Technology, highlighted that the country currently faces a backlog of over 23 million homes, a problem that has persisted for over two decades. The successful completion of UJ’s 3D printed building project brings hope for a transformative solution to this long-standing issue.

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Edward Wakefield

Edward is a freelance writer and additive manufacturing enthusiast looking to make AM more accessible and understandable.

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