The Story of India’s First 3D Printed House

Sujal Topno

“From the land of people that need houses and yet, deserve homes”

In India, being able to afford a home is a distant dream for most and a pain-staking reality for many. Be it the ill-favored dependencies on intermediaries or the labor undulations; constructing a house has always had its fair share of unfortunate testimonies. Aspiring to address such challenges through the dedicated use of technology, Tvasta entered the construction ecosystem with the vision of changing the way a common man buys a house. Armed with state-of-the-art Additive Manufacturing Technologies (indigenously developed!), the start-up was able to successfully arrive at a viable solution for this acute, nation-wide issue. If the ‘historians of technology’ from the future were to look back, it would be this present-day and age that would be marked as the beginning of Tvasta’s engagement with ‘Concrete 3D Printing’.

In the early days, of all the core sub-technologies of ‘Concrete 3D Printing’, Material – particularly its formulation and related research – was the start-up’s pivot point. A Desktop 3D Printer was developed towards this in 2016, for testing buildability and concrete flow. Subsequently, in 2018, a Proof-of-Concept structure (alternately, ‘India’s FIRST 3D Printed Concrete Structure’) was constructed using an in-house R&D Printer. With the establishment of basic technological viability through this structure, the road ahead for Tvasta saw the company undertake the construction of a full-scale house through 3D Printing. An endeavour of this nature for the start-up would, essentially, break barriers and open up the gates for ‘Concrete 3D Printing’ in the Construction Industry. Moreover, the project would serve as an unmistakable technology demonstrator – a model for future processes.

To this end, the Tvasta NIRMAAN – an industry-standard Concrete 3D Printer – was developed to complement the substantial volume and speed requirements of printing a standard house – the printer in question has a build volume of 2.2 m x 1.8 m x 1.5 m and a printing speed of 100 mm/s. Further, by implementing a multi-pallet system for rapid printing and development, Tvasta took a giant leap in 3D Printing Technology in the country. A brand-new operations team was set up dedicated to printing the structure. The ‘C3DP Team’ or ‘Concrete 3D Printing Team’ consisted of the most untiring engineers who worked unanimously with the 3D Printer throughout the course of the project.

With the machine in place, planning the most awaited project for Tvasta – the construction of ‘India’s FIRST 3D Printed Concrete House’ – commenced in Feb 2020. Noteworthy is the fact that the project was shouldered by Tvasta in collaboration with Habitat for Humanity, USA – an NGO that is helping people worldwide realize their dream of owning a home. The onset of COVID-19 and a nation-wide lockdown temporarily halted project operations; however, Tvasta’s symbiosis with its existent ecosystem along with the diligence of the entire team (working-from-home) ensured seamless translation of ideas on-ground post the cessation of lock-down. Printing commenced in August, 2020 (with necessary safety precautions) and took a modular course facilitating the assembly of the house inside IIT Madras, India. A consistent and time-conscious workforce was instrumental in wrapping-up the entire project from printing to end-assembly in three weeks. 

Owing to its Indian roots and keeping in line with the local tradition, the completed house was commemorated by an auspicious ‘Griha Pravesham’ Pooja, following which a small get-together was arranged with Tvasta’s extended team. This pre-inaugural event gained much attention and successfully took to the papers. The house was virtually inaugurated by Smt. Nirmala Sitharaman, Honourable Finance Minister of the Govt. of India, on 27th of April, 2021. The grand event was presided over by many notable dignitaries such as Shri N. Venkataraman, Additional Solicitor General of India, Professor Bhaskar Ramamurthy, Director, IIT-Madras, Mr. Anoop Nambiar, Country Director (India), Terwilliger Center for Innovation in Shelter, and many more. The 3D Printed House is the first and by far the best display of the start-up’s technical and technological capabilities. It not only serves as the chronological marker for Tvasta’s achievements but is also a humble visage for all the feats of ‘3D Printing in Construction’ that is yet to come.

With the 4th Industrial Revolution upon us, one can definitely say that the Construction Industry is, presently, standing in the wake of a new dawn, awed by the wonders of Technology. Capable of satisfying both the ostentatious and the unassuming needs of the industry, ‘Concrete 3D Printing’ would tremendously benefit modern-day construction practices and evolve along with the Construction field for the better, in the days to come. As a startup that is happy and proud to have accomplished the construction of ‘India’s FIRST 3D Printed Concrete House’, we undoubtedly look forward to acquainting the two on an intimate level in our quest for a better tomorrow.

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