Forget luxurious houses and highly designed workbenches -- the next big use of 3D printing is far less glamorous and far more practical.The U.S. Marine corps recently completed its first 3d-printed barracks, a sign of the rapid construction of housing.
Using the world's largest 3D printer, the Marine Corps' Automated Construction of Expeditionary Structures initiative teamed up with the I Marine Expeditionary Force to print a 512-square-foot "B-Hut" in 40 hours. The design, a collaboration with architecture firm Skidmore, Owings, & Merrill (SOM),has a simple rectangular structure with incisions in the Windows, but its walls are designed in an unusual zig zag shape, which the Marine corps says is 2.5 times stronger than normal reinforced concrete walls.
The military has been experimenting with various forms of 3D printing for years, but housing is an instant and practical application.Building barracks is an unnecessary resource drain, as it takes five marines 10 days to build a typical wooden house. "In active or simulated combat environments, we don't want marines there wielding hammers and lifting plywood," said Capt. Matthew Friedell, who is leading the project. "Having a concrete printer that can make buildings demand is a huge advantage for the Marine corps operating range."
For the first 3d-printed barracks, the team used a 10-year-old computer and relied on the marines to provide concrete to the printers.The team says the robot can be done in a day.