We can now 3D-print an entire building! New findings demonstrating such a system at work are published in the journal Science Robotics.
Revolutionising the world of construction with a 3-D printing robotic system that can generate the basic structure of an entire building—this is what a team of MIT researchers has aspired (and succeeded) to do. Their work promises to pave the way to more efficient building construction: the procedure is faster and less expensive. Furthermore, it provides for more flexibility as the system can accommodate for particular needs and wants, with respect to both the construction site, and the client’s requirements. The scientists, led by Steven Keating, boasts that this approach can do what traditional construction methods cannot.
Co-author, Neri Oxman, says that their project challenges conventional building features like walls and windows, and instead offers the possibility of a single system with varying properties to create walls that can merge into windows.
“Making it faster, better, and cheaper is one thing. But the ability to design and digitally fabricate multifunctional structures in a single build embodies a shift from the machine age to the biological age—from considering the building as a machine to live in, made of standardized parts, to the building as an organism, which is computationally grown, additively manufactured, and possibly biologically augmented”.
The main component of the robotic system is a tracked vehicle bearing a big, industrial robotic arm that consists of a further arm, one smaller and aimed at precise motion. The user just has to control the arm, which is highly-manoeuvrable to get traditional (or not) nozzles to do the job: concrete and insulation material can, thus, be poured using existing materials.
Another positive aspect of this system is that it is not limited to a certain size. Rather, it can make buildings of any dimension.
The authors explain that their system is meant as a self-sufficient one. It can be operated electrically, with an alternative option of being powered by solar panels. The applications of this type of highly-adaptable device includes being transported to remote areas such as developing countries to erect buildings in a quick and cheap way. It can also be used for disaster relief purposes to provide reliable shelter within mere hours only.
The ambition of the MIT researchers even goes beyond Earth. According to Keating, they hope that it will ultimately be possible to have a refined system sent to the moon or to Mars.
We are in the era of 3-printing. Different teams of researchers have come up with marvellous inventions: from systems that can 3D-print homemade appliances to others that can make shells for an injured tortoise.