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New Zealand 3D-prints first commercial building in southern hemisphere

28 April 2023

The first building featuring QOROX 3D printed concrete walls has just been completed in Hamilton, New Zealand.

The build, an early childhood centre Creators Forest Lake, is the first Commercial building in the southern hemisphere, with the textured concrete.

Completed on time through the peak of post-COVID supply chain issues, by Iconic Construction Ltd, General Manager Johnny Gordon said the use of QOROX walls was a ‘game-changer’, particularly due to the quick printing and setting time.

“Six sections of QOROX 3D printed walls at a combined length of 15 metres long and three metres high, were printed in under five hours. Within the space of a day and a half, we had an entire length of wall finished inside and out,” said Gordon.

“We had a great mix of traditional methods alongside 3D printed walls on this build. The walls that used QOROX 3D printing for both inside and out have been finished for months. After installing them late last year the only additional finish was to paint them, by comparison to the more traditional areas that have taken months longer to get to the same stage.”

Gordon said the time saving was noticed by other trades on site, particularly the installation, which was completed in just two and a half days by only two people.

QOROX founder Wafaey Swelim said the speed of construction was due to the innovative technology and the construction “Ink”, made from 80 percent of material sourced in New Zealand, and a blend of ingredients he likes to call the ‘colonel’s secret spices’.

Swelim said creating a more sustainably sourced printing material was QOROX’s top priority after the global pandemic negatively impacted the availability and speed of sourcing material from overseas.

“We had huge delays during the pandemic so reducing our reliance on overseas materials by looking into local production was a key decision for us. We have one product in our mix that we need to import, the rest is locally sourced.”

Swelim said 3D printing can be used across projects of any size or quantity.

“We can print almost anything, from the smallest single-run planter boxes, right through to commercial builds like this daycare centre, or even large-scale stormwater collection systems. We are currently working on a project where we have printed a structure containing shells to wrap around wharf piers to help regenerate sea life in waterways affected by heavy construction,” added Swelim.

Flexible design options available with QOROX 3D printed concrete allows people to think differently about what could be possible.

Other notable projects for QOROX include the recently publicised Huia house, which incorporates curved walls with a weave pattern. The next development by Iconic is already in the pipeline, with QOROX and Iconic working with local designers to expand the possibilities of 3D printing in New Zealand construction.

Nick Lane, Commercial Captain at QOROX, said being able to build texture and curves into the wall design softened the look of the concrete walls, setting it apart from other options.

“You don’t often think of concrete as warm and welcoming, but the texture and curves can give the walls a sense of comfort and whimsy, and it holds and transfers heat well which is great for all seasons,” said Lane.

Lane said after seeing the printer in action and seeing the strength in the concrete after a short curing period opened his eyes to the possibilities for the sector.

“After two hours, QOROX walls are at the same strength as a masonry block that you would buy off the shelf and at structural strength for construction in just over 24 hours,” Lane said.

“Our plan is to see more builders using this technology for construction and we’re currently seeking expressions of interest from building companies interested in becoming regional partners to enable this.”

Iconic Construction was so impressed with the building method that they signed up to be QOROX’s first regional partner.

“It was a no-brainer. The possibilities for this type of construction are so vast that we’re only limited by our imaginations. We wanted Iconic to be at the forefront of this building revolution,” said Gordon.

“We’re super proud to be the first QOROX regional partner and to deliver the first commercial 3D printed concrete building in the southern hemisphere.”

Expressions of interest from regional partners outside the Waikato are now open, with builders interested in viewing the technology and learning more encouraged to visit https://qorox.co.nz/contact/.

Source & image credit: QOROX