Can 3D-Printed Schools Tackle Africa's Classroom Shortage?

The success of a project by 14Trees - a joint venture between Swiss cement manufacturer LafargeHolcim and British development finance agency CDC Group - has shown how 3D printing could be transformative in Africa, where there is a dire shortage of classroom space.

The U.N. children's agency UNICEF estimates there is a shortfall of 36,000 primary school classrooms in Malawi alone, a gap that Francois Perrot, 14Trees managing director, estimates could be closed in 10 years using 3D-printing technology. Large-scale 3D printing is gaining steam around the world, with some projects producing a home in just 24 hours of printing time for a few thousand dollars.

 

The new 3D-printed school in Salima, made of concrete placed layer by layer through a computer-controlled nozzle, in central Malawi, June 18, 2021.

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