US Military Builds Barracks Using World's Largest 3D Printer

- Sep 11, 2018-

The US Marine corps systems command used a 3D printer to build a 500-square-foot (46-square-meter) prototype concrete barracks in just 40 hours.

The 3d-printed structure seems to fit well with the military.Emerging technologies are relatively portable and cheap, if that means soldiers can secure barracks in less time and even save lives.With that in mind, the U.S. Marine corps systems command (MCSC) recently built a prototype concrete barracks in two days, which it calls the world's largest 3D printer.

MCSC's Additive Manufacturing Team collaborated with I Marine Expeditionary Force to build the prototype barracks at the US Army Engineer Research and Development Center in Champaign, Illinois.

The 3D printer is used to build a 500-square-foot (46-square-meter) basic barracks hut in just 40 hours.According to MCSC, it usually takes 10 marines to build a similar cabin using wood, so it's a significant improvement.

The team began with a computer model and a 3D printer. Once they hit print, the actual construction process was very similar to previous 3D-printed concrete structures we've seen, and involved cement being extruded through a nozzle in layers to build up the undulating walls. We've no word on how the roof, windows and doors were added, but would guess that US Marines handled these finishing touches manually.

The Marine corps is now conducting more research to see how the technology can be used in the field and whether further improvements can be made to the construction process.One suggestion is that automatic pumping and mixing of cement can speed up progress to a day.

"In active or simulated combat environments, we don't want Marines out there swinging hammers and holding plywood up," says MCSC Capt. Matthew Friedell. "Having a concrete printer that can make buildings on demand is a huge advantage for Marines operating down range."

We have found more information about the actual size of the 3D printer to confirm that it is larger than the Russian model we covered recently, but looking ahead, the MCSC aims to deploy technology for military operations and humanitarian aid and relief missions and says it can help resettle people in need more quickly.

"This capability would enable a great partnership with the local community because it is low cost, easy to use, and robotics could print the buildings," adds Friedell. "We can bring forward better structures, houses and forward operating bases with less manpower and fewer Marines in harm's way."

US military builds barracks using "world's largest" 3D printer

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