Novel 3D construction printing technology aims to reduce the housing backlog in South Africa

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Minister of Higher Education, Science, and Innovation, Dr Blade Nzimande officially launched the 3D Construction Printing for Sustainable Human Settlements Project (3DCP) – a technology demonstration funded by the Department of Science and Innovation (DSI) and implemented by the University of Johannesburg (UJ) in partnership with the KwaZulu-Natal Department of Human Settlements.  

Pioneered by the Roadmap for Science, Technology and Innovation (STI) for Sustainable Human Settlements to achieve sustainable smart, green and resilient settlements, the 3DCP's objectives are, among other things, to demonstrate its potential in improving housing delivery and to investigate the cost-benefit analysis of adopting the technology to help increase the speed of delivering houses.

Speaking during the launch of the project at the UJ Doornfontein Campus, Minister Nzimande said that the 3DCP demonstrates the DSI's commitment to increasingly employ STI in addressing people's day-to-day challenges.

"Using innovative building products in South Africa has significant potential economic ramifications, including eradicating the housing backlog and providing better-quality housing and construction products, possibly reducing the life-cycle cost of the houses," said the Minister.

Provision of safe and quality housing is one of the most urgent challenges facing our country.  Even though the government has made significant progress in the provision of housing in the past 28 years, the housing backlog still stands at more than 2,3 million houses.  

"We believe that the construction 3D printing will significantly alter and positively disrupt how human settlements will be delivered in South Africa," added the Minister.

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The 3D printing represents a novel technology in the manufacturing sector, which is associated with potentially strong stimuli for sustainable development. It encompasses additive means of production and its advantages in construction relate to lower costs, environmental friendliness, reduced fatalities and injuries on sites and reduced time of construction. Other advantages of this project are that the cement used in 3D construction dries more quickly than the cement used in the construction sector, and that virtually any structure can be printed.  

The KwaZulu-Natal Department of Human Settlements has committed to provide serviced sites for the demonstration and building of 10 houses in eThekwini Municipality, as well as pilot the construction 3D printing of full-scale houses in the province, with an identified construction SMME to implement physical construction.  UJ has made a piece of land available on the campus to print a demo house while conducting training.

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For enquiries, please contact Thabang Setlhare at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 072 659 9690.

Issued by the Ministry of Higher Education, Science and Innovation.

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