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World’s first 3D printed school opens in Malawi

The world’s first school built with 3D printing has been officially opened in Malawi.

Located in the lakeshore district of Salima, the school’s walls were printed in just 18 hours which is drastically less compared to several days using conventional building materials.

The school was officially transferred to the Kalonga village community in the district and pupils began classes in the new facility on June 21.

Construction of the school was part of a joint a venture by cement group LafargeHolcim and UK development financier CDC Group.

According to a media statement, the school is proof that 3D printing can play a key role in bridging our world’s education infrastructure gap by building high-quality classrooms for children in a sustainable, affordable and fast-paced way at scale.

Tenbite Ermias who is Managing Director for Africa at CDC said: “The rollout of 14Trees’ world-class, cutting-edge technology is going to have a tremendous developmental impact on Malawi and the wider region. It is a wonderful example of how we are investing in businesses that can support the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.”

Classes underway at the school.
Photo credit: CDC Group

And on his part Miljan Gutovic, Region Head of Europe, Middle East and Africa at Holcim Group said: “I am very proud of how our colleagues at 14Trees have deployed cutting-edge 3D printing technology to solve such an essential infrastructure need.

Now that we’ve proven the concept in Malawi, we look forward to scaling up this technology across the broader region, with projects already in the pipeline in Kenya and Zimbabwe.”

The 3D printing process significantly reduces the time, cost and materials used for building housing and schools, while also reducing their environmental footprint by more than 50% compared to conventional methods.

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In Malawi alone, UNICEF estimates a shortage of 36,000 classrooms which would take 70 years to build using conventional methods. According to 14Trees, this infrastructure gap could be bridged in just ten years with 3D printing.

The facility was officially handed over to the community last Wednesday.
Photo credit CDC Group

Partnering with a range of NGOs, 14Trees is committed to solving this chronic shortage at scale and sustainably, starting with families and communities most in need.

Such projects are expected to sustain skilled job creation by hiring and upskilling local experts in dynamic roles such as 3D machine operators to material specialists working in partnership with local builders for carpentry, roofing, painting, and beyond.

In addition to the school in Salima, 14Trees also built its first 3D prototype house in Lilongwe, Malawi, in just 12 hours, compared to almost four days using conventional methods.

14Trees is a LafargeHolcim and CDC Group joint venture dedicated to accelerating the provision of affordable housing in Africa.


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