14Trees launches first 3D printer for construction made in Africa

Proprietary technology improves reliability and mobility at an affordable cost:

  • Accelerates access to 3D construction printing from Africa to the world
  • Expands automated construction to meet rising demand
  • Delivers to first customers in Q4 2023

14Trees, a joint venture between Holcim and British International Investment (BII), the UK's development finance institution and impact investor, today announced the launch of its new construction-ready 3D printer, Iroko. The innovative technology improves construction speed, cost, and flexibility - scaling up digital automation to build resilient and affordable housing, education infrastructure and commercial real estate worldwide. 

Construction 3D printing brings a transformative impact to people's lives; however, maximising the scale of impact requires a new generation of technological advancement. Iroko introduces performance advantages that enable multi-storey construction and building with more reliability and mobility - opening up global access to state-of-the-art construction methods - no matter the terrain. 

Co-designed and manufactured with PMSA, a leader in construction equipment, Iroko's mobility and optimised assembly are key tenets of the revolutionary design by 14Trees. The printer's aluminium frame is quick to assemble and light yet robust - meaning it can be mounted without cranes, and stored in a compact container, making transportation and deployment rapid and efficient. The 14Trees printer specialises in single to two-storey residential and commercial applications and does not need extensions to take smarter construction to the next level. 

Iroko is equipped with a unique multi-laser system controlling the print quality 50 times per second to improve the overall performance of the end-product and enhance operator safety. The new design is fitted with a material preparation and feed system, compatible with Holcim's ink, TectorPrint, and 14Trees' growing range of low-carbon inks, which lowers a building's carbon footprint by up to 70 percent compared to traditional processes. 

The innovative approach reduces CO2 emissions typical to standard methods of cement production, contributing to the achievement of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals on Industry, Innovation, and Infrastructure (SDG 9) and Sustainable Cities and Communities (SDG 11). 

The real estate sector is responsible for 40 percent of greenhouse gas emissions, with the bulk coming from manufacturing raw materials, packaging, and transportation. 14Trees is committed to reducing the carbon footprint of buildings by digitally optimising material use through a comprehensive climate monitoring system that measures and captures the ambient environment to provide the operator with actionable information during printing and in-depth data for retrospective analysis - improving the next build. 

Commenting on the new innovation by 14Trees, François Perrot, Managing Director, 14Trees said: "As the global infrastructure sector experiences an industrial revolution, the construction space is under more pressure to boost performance, work towards a net-zero future, and fulfil the needs of an evolving real estate and housing sector. Our 14Trees printer is a robust solution to maintain affordability and deliver on structural performance. We’re enhancing the sustainability and profitability of 3D printing for construction - a sector positioned for yield and growth.” 

Miljan Gutovic, Region Head for Europe, Holcim commented: “I am excited to see 14Trees shaping the future of construction. This innovation will help accelerate 3D construction printing around the world, fully aligned with Holcim’s mission to decarbonise building at scale.”
Abhinav Sinha, Managing Director and Head of Technology and Telecoms, BII said: “We are thrilled by the ground-breaking milestone that 14Trees has achieved to innovate 3D construction methods in Africa. This latest innovation will help to increase the availability of affordable housing, which is urgently needed on the continent, and also to decarbonise the construction sector. This goes to the heart of our mandate which is to create productive, sustainable and inclusive outcomes and improve the lives of people in Africa.”
Fulfilling its mission to revolutionise the future of construction - for good, 14Trees has delivered the world's first 3D-printed schools in Malawi and Madagascar; the walls of these projects were printed in less than 18 hours. Building on a track record of speed and progress, 14Trees is currently building a 52-house complex in Kenya, which underscores the company’s forward plan to drive innovation in construction and further develop 3D printing technology in developing economies. 

The 14Trees printer is designed to deliver a competitive commercial solution for contractors in multiple markets - enabling long-term investment into the automated construction space. Iroko empowers the building of the world's critical infrastructure and forms part of 14Trees' plan to facilitate action with buildings that bring people together in a climate-resilient and inclusive way. The 14Trees printer will be delivered in Q4 2023.