Concrete-jet "printer" being developed for construction

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Concrete-jet "printer" being developed for construction




The USC boffins reckon their robo-gantry gear can do more than just concrete boxes: it can apparently fit the plumbing and electrics as it goes along, do the plastering, and perhaps even fit some structural members. And there's no need for boring old boxy shapes, either. The equipment can happily create domes, vaults or any other shape that can be drawn in CAD software and support its own weight - at no added expense. Normally, anything other than right angles and verticals costs like crazy, so this latter feature is thought to have architects salivating.


Wow - there goes the construction industry as we knew it.


So long as it's open source, the means of production can be owned by communities and workers themselves. Freedom comin' our way, baby.


This sounds interesting, and I have seen something sort of similar that makes things out of plastic (IIRC you slowly fill a vat with some gel and a laser which causes the gel to harden "prints" each layer of what you are trying to make as it fills up) but I can see a couple things that might have to be worked out (or I just haven't seen the details yet).

First, how are they planning to do things like the roof and tops of windows and doors? If there is just air below it, you won't be able to put any concrete there because it isn't supported by anything.

Also, you would still have to get all the reinforcement in place first because concrete without reinforcement is very weak in tension. (unless you have robot arms putting it in or something).

And finally, this looks like it would use up a lot of energy to go back and forth over each layer a whole bunch of times compared to regular construction. And the setup looks like it would be a nightmare.


I believe carbon "nanotubes", which are said to have the potential to be stronger than CHT 360 or T1 structural steel, will replace steel re-bar in the future. Perhaps they will be able to combine several compounds with a continuous pour, or something.

And I don't see why rooftops couldn't be included in the finished job. There are extremely durable industrial roofing materials being used today. For now, just being able to automate the framing/building of the shell is quite an accomplishment.