MIT construction 3D printer prints a building in 14 hours

Original author: Brian Heater @
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Massachusetts Technology has created a self-propelled 3D printer for printing buildings. Techcrunch

article translated for you Top 3D Shop .

At first glance, the “digital construction platform” is as clumsy as its name. The nozzle is attached to a pair of robotic "hands" mounted on a structure like a huge radio-controlled SUV with caterpillar tracks. Yes, even a flatbed trailer behind - with two large fastened metal tanks. In fact, this whole bulky system is a mobile 3D printer.

MIT is confident that this development can revolutionize the construction business both on Earth and, in the distant future, on other planets.

The idea of ​​3D printing buildings, of course, is not new. Attempts to erect buildings in a similar manner have been made before - with varying success. What distinguishes this project from most competing ones is the shift in the production process: the transition from block construction to printing all the necessary structure in one pass.

The developed system is free from the typical limitations of traditional 3D printing solutions. This is achieved due to the presence in the device of a long robotic "arm" for industrial use. Already connected to it is another "arm" of increased accuracy, providing the necessary control in the process. This is what gives the machine the ability to operate in a much larger space than traditional 3D printers - their coverage area is usually limited by the size of the platform (or the “table” for printing).

The project team has been working on this robot since 2011, and the development process took place in several stages. A video published by the developers demonstrates how a robot makes a 3.5-meter-high dome from foam concrete, leaving room for pipes and cables in the walls.

The 3D printer took about 14 hours to complete the process of erecting such a design. But what is shown in the video is just the beginning of the ambitious goals of the developers.

Project author Stephen Keating recently earned a doctorate in mechanical engineering. He enthusiastically talked about how the ambitions of his team members transferred them from the laboratory of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology to the walls of buildings under construction on Mars in a matter of seconds.

Stephen Keating:

“Building cars and buildings, inspired by natural structures, is a fashion trend in the world of modern robotics. The entire system is programmable and starts at the touch of a button. And if you need to perform the task in extreme conditions - in the Antarctic or, what is already there, on Mars - complete autonomy is ensured.

Our vision for the future in this project is self-supporting robotic systems. As a tree is able to provide itself with energy, so our platform is being developed with a focus on such an opportunity. We demonstrated this using solar panels in the design. Further development of the idea is the ability to collect and use materials available on the spot. ”

With a well-chosen combination of sensors, the system can adapt to circumstances - light, weather conditions - and use available materials for construction. The documentation even contains a proposal for the construction of walls made of organic raw materials, cyanobacteria - they can adapt to the environment, and this corresponds to the original goal of the team to build “biological buildings”.

Stephen Keating also emphasizes that he prefers to call the developed machine a platform rather than a 3D printer. The goal of his team was to create a robotic tandem system, the various functions of which will be used for construction - in addition to 3D printing, the machine can mill and dig.

And, although many of the goals on paper look like science fiction, Stephen confidently states: the system will be able to build buildings for real use in the near future.

“I believe that over the next few years you will begin to notice around the buildings that will be created in this way. This phenomenon will be widespread. ”

Do you think it is possible to use 3D printers for construction in the next ten years? Will it be possible to order a print, for example, of a country house (similar to what Apis Cor in the Moscow Region recently printed ) and start using it in a couple of days? Share your thoughts on this topic in the comments.

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