Swedish concrete manufacturer Skansa and architecture firm Foster + Partners have teamed up to create the first 3D-printing concrete robot. The team is using the technology to print high-performance concrete, which could someday be used to construct buildings. The project stands to save time and money while giving architects the ability to create almost any structure imaginable.

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The 3D printing robot, which is controlled by a computer, works by printing out successive layers of concrete to create a solid structure. While it may sound like just a creative use of printing technology, it could also make building with concrete even more cost effective than it is now. The system is currently in its second prototype and the team is collaborating with Loughborough University to hopefully get things up and running within 18 months.

Related: Could Bees 3D-Print Concrete Structures in the Cities of the Future?

“3D concrete printing, when combined with a type of mobile prefabrication center, has the potential to reduce the time needed to create complex elements of buildings from weeks to hours,” said Skansa’s Rob Francis. Even better, the system could enable manufacturers to make architectural features that just aren’t possible right now.

“We have reached a point where new developments in construction manufacturing are required to meet the new challenges and our research has sought to respond to that challenge,” said Richard Buswell with Loughborough University.

Via Dezeen

Images via Loughborough University