Some people dismissed 3D-printing in its early days as a novelty, but these days the technology is coming into its own and researchers at MIT have just taken it to the next level. They’ve created a robot that can print the entire basic structure of a building. This is particularly exciting because it could change the way we construct buildings, making the process faster and less costly.
Using the new technology, a builder could customize a structure to fit the desires and site requirements of any space. Along with allowing for a wider variety of materials and a variation in material density, it could mean that someday we can construct buildings that we wouldn’t be able to today using traditional methods.
The technology includes a vehicle with one large robotic arm with a second smaller, more precise arm at the end. The truck also has a scoop, so that the truck can help prepare the building area and pick up building materials on its own, meaning you could create rammed-earth walls using on-site materials with the same system that you use to print the structure. MIT says the system can be powered electrically with solar panels, which means it could be used in remote areas or even on other planets.
MIT showed the technology off by building a 12-foot high, 50-foot wide dome out of foam-insulation framework. The entire structure was completed in just 14 hours. “The construction industry is still mostly doing things the way it has for hundreds of years,” said engineering graduate Steven Keating, who worked on the project. This robot is intended to move things into the future.