Boston, May 3: 3D printing which was first invented in the year 1984 has slowly gone from a curious novelty to a totally viable option today. 3D printing is an additive manufacturing process that creates a physical object from a digital design. And, MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) has invented a way to use the technology to print buildings.
The peculiar system is essentially a robotically controlled arm that sprays an expanding foam that dries hard — kind of like the gap-filling foam you’d buy at a hardware store. The system’s sensors detect the height at which the arm sprays the foam, gradually lifting itself higher as the walls of the structure take shape. In the demo video, the robot is shown building a circular structure with double-thick foam walls supported by internal bracing. The dome like structure was completed in less than 14 hours, and was 12 feet tall and 50 feet across.
The technology could allow for faster, cheaper and more adaptable building construction compared to traditional methods, according to the researchers. Unlike other 3D printing systems, their free-moving design can create an object of any size.
The system can even account for doorways, can build walls of varying thicknesses to account for specific climates, and could potentially use other materials which it would harvest from the surrounding area if deployed in a remote area. MIT even notes that, once it’s built to be completely autonomous, it would be a great option for sending to the moon or Mars, where traditional building materials wouldn’t necessarily be available. But this technology might take 50 years or maybe sooner to experiment in a completely alienated planet.