Apis Cor organic 3D printing principle
Yesterday only the chosen ones knew about 3D printing, and today everybody can print a miniature plastic copy of a beloved dog on a home 3D printer. That’s how rapidly the technology evolves.
Companies announce commercial flights into space, doctors recommend exoskeletons, and none of the industrial sectors can do without 3D-printing — architecture, industry, medicine.
And recently — in construction industry also.
3D printing is the creation of a structure layer by layer. This approach allows to create a product without expensive tools and scraps of material. Otherwise it is called «additive manufacturing».
Method, already known in other areas, found its application in construction relatively recently. And it all began with big printers which started to print individual elements of buildings, and then people assemble them on the construction site.
Yes, this technology allowed to easily reproduce any forms that were difficult, long and expensive to make using traditional method of construction. But is this all that construction 3D printing has to offer?
First of all, let’s try to understand at what point of its development the construction industry is right now? Is it possible to build even better? What should we develop and what should we abandon to accelerate progress?
Today, any manufacturing industry has the following features:
- creation of local factories,
- logistics for the purchase and delivery of raw materials,
- factory produces individual elements or a complete product that is then delivered to the end user,
- one kind of manufactured product or a certain type of processing per machine.
Each step in the chain increases the cost of the final product. And consumers are the ones who have to bear it. To resolve this problem, we need an alternative to at least four links in the industrial chain. But what can we come up with, when such practices have already existed for years?
ACTUALLY NATURE HAS ALREADY DONE EVERYTHING FOR US. ONE ONLY HAS TO LOOK CLOSER...
Beavers build dams that are longer than 800 meters. Using their own abilities and materials that can be found nearby.
Fruit seeds are not digested in the digestive system of animals and are able to navigate in the body of the living creatures and fall into a different, possibly more fertile ground for the spreading and survival of their species.
Even human fetal development occurs completely without external interference. There is no need in additional materials or third-party designs, for example, to form the brain or bone tissues. All tissues and organs are created from substances that enter the body of the mother with food. And organic world is different from artificial one, where each element is created separately and then integrated into the system.
Clever nature invented mobile living «factories» that are able to create a whole instead of its parts and use local materials for construction. It only remains for us to take it and adapt it to our needs.
Actually, that’s what the people who work in the 3D printing industry are doing. 3D printing allows to make a finished product where you want it, and using only original raw materials. There is no need for additional processing — it is not necessary to cut, grind, and remove excess material. And even if the product is larger than what the printer can handle — you can print separate parts and then assemble them together.
3D printing technology has enabled us to work more efficiently and simultaneously reduce the consumption of materials. But can we apply this organic approach to construction?
It is logical to assume that to create large objects we require large 3D printers. If we are going to use ideas taken from nature, we need to install a huge printer right on the site of the future house and start printing.
By the way, this practice is already known.
Firstly, the bulkiness. Since we have decided that printing large buildings is a task for large printers, then imagine the dimensions of such a printer. To print the entire building, the printer must be bigger than the object itself. Now imagine the transportation of this printing equipment. You can even guess how much it will cost.
Secondly, sensitivity to the installation conditions.
Such huge printers must be installed on a perfectly level surface so that the printer doesn’t get jammed, and print accuracy is preserved.
Precisely because of these problems, the builders install 3D-printers in closed factory premises and use them print only elements of buildings, which are then transported to the construction site, and then assembled in the finished building. As it turns out, we have gone away from natural methods once again: again we print individual parts, deliver and finally assemble them together at the construction site.
The result is a 3D printer that simply duplicates the function of a factory. Yes, this is a more flexible form of production, but the essence remains the same. The final product is still created manually from parts.
And now we come to the important thing — to a new round of evolution in construction 3D printing, which has brought the construction process as close as possible to organic production.
A new stage of development in construction 3D printing began with the advent of the world’s first mobile 3Dprinter developed by Apis Cor.
HOW IS THE SOLUTION OF APIS COR DIFFERENT FROM OTHER 3D PRINTERS? LET’S EXAMINE THE MAIN DIFFERENCES
Before the advent of Apis Cor creation, all building printers were of portal type design. Apis Cor made a leap to full mobility. Inventor of the printer used the principle of construction crane that is able to rotate around its axis and print an object being close to it, that is, outside and inside the building. Such an approach helped to create a printer of compact sizes. And thus solved the problem with the installation and dismantling of equipment and gave the go-ahead to perform printing directly on the construction site, and lifted a ban on the construction of structures far beyond the size of the printer itself. Installation and launch of Apis Cor 3D printing system takes no more than an hour, in contrast to the gantry systems, installation of which may last up to several days.
With the advent of mobile construction 3D printer design we managed to solve other tasks that are not available to portal design printers: ensure the accuracy of the print and open new opportunities for designers and architects to embody their creative ideas.
MATERIAL MIX AND SUPPLY SYSTEM
For a 3D printer to work, you need printing material. With domestic equipment everything is clear — we print using plastic spools. But what is the case in construction application?
Dry cement mix needs to be mixed in the right proportions and uniformly fed into the printer with variable speed as the print goes along. Using manual labor for that task would seem to be the easiest way. Some people do just that. But in that case, how can we guarantee the quality and safety of construction? And what if workers make a mistake? One wrong step may affect the whole block of the future house. The price of error is too high.
«Apis Cor» is a supporter of full automation of processes, and its engineers have developed a Mobile Automated mix and supply Unit for construction mixes (MAU). With MAU’s help the concrete is mixed and supplied for the printing automatically in full synchronization with the printer. Thus providing high quality of printing during the entire building process.
It turns out, the emergence of mobile construction 3D printer has helped to return the development of 3D printing technologies into organic production route.
We have the raw substance which when mixed is easily transformed into construction material. And we have a printer. Printer that is so compact, that using only standard machinery it is transported to where we want to see the future home. An hour for installation works. And thus construction begins. We don’t need any local factories or complicated logistics.
It looks as if a house just grows entirely from the ground where we have planned it to be. And the construction process has the same benefits as the processes occurring in living organisms — speed, efficiency, mobility, lack of waste and full automation.
Before, between the idea of a designer and its embodiment as a real house we had to make hundreds of intermediate steps, work long months and use dozens of workers, now with the advent of smart machines, you can simply throw those extra steps away.
Total resource economy in production means that now we can reduce the cost of construction of buildings if not by half, then by 40 percent for sure. Without loss of quality. This means that new technologies would not only accelerate the construction, but also make housing truly affordable.
In the era of the gantry/portal construction printers people familiar with 3D printing often wondered: Why 3D printing is not used in mass construction? The answer is simple. Design limitations of these printers didn’t allow to use them in unprepared conditions. They all were set up in private factories, research centers, special rooms.
With the advent of Apis Cor mobile design everything changed. Construction 3D printers move to local markets, where they are bought by construction companies and private builders. Dream of tens of thousands of people who could not afford a roof over their heads, now becomes a reality.
Construction industry is changing. And these changes are natural.
WHAT DID THE CONSTRUCTION 3D PRINTING INDUSTRY AND THE INNOVATIVE NEW TECHNOLOGY DEVELOPED BY APIS COR GIVE TO US?
NO CONSTRUCTION WASTE
After a traditional construction process there is always a lot of waste that requires subsequent disposal or recycling. This creates problems for the environment, increases costs and reduces efficiency of construction. Construction 3D printing allows you to eliminate waste — after all, we only print what’s necessary for a project and nothing more.
HIGH SPEED OF CONSTRUCTION
Traditional construction always takes long. Purchase of materials and tools, shipping, hiring workers, construction works — all this takes a lot of time. The emergence of 3D printing is changing the idea about the construction time. One-story houses are built within a few days — this speed of construction allows people to settle in the new, fully finished house within a couple of weeks from the start of construction.
Traditional approach limits the work of architects and designers. Any attempt to deviate from standard forms or items leads to higher prices for the project. No wonder that designer homes are considered a luxury.
Construction 3D printing opens up a host of new design possibilities — an architect can design any form, and the buyer can get a dream house.
SMOOTH WALL SURFACE
During block building process the construction blocks are joined together. Blocks are joined, but the cracks remain. Filling joints and smoothing out the wall surface is difficult and expensive to deal with. But we must wait and endure. After all, no one wants to live in a house full of holes. Walls printed using 3D technology have monolithic structure and surface immediately ready for finishing works.
Construction waste is not the only problem of traditional construction impacting the environment. There are others. For example, the expenditure of non-renewable resources of the planet, such as wood, without which no frame type construction can take place. If we continue to use these materials at the same pace — soon we will run out of materials to build with.
But the alternative is already there. And this is the geopolymer material. Its composition includes by-products of different industries. What does that mean? By using it to perform 3D printing, we are doing three good deeds at once: reduce waste, recycle material that nobody had a use for and reduce the cost of housing.
To reduce cost and shorten the time of traditional construction, people begin to build house frames from cheap materials — wood, composite blocks. Indeed, it’s faster and cheaper.
Yet such materials and not able to survive fires and natural disasters. As a result — high cost of insurance and risk of losing a house entirely in circumstances of a natural disaster.
Construction 3D printing enables you to get a durable reinforced concrete house for the cost of a wood frame house. This not only makes secure accommodation available for wide layers of the population, but also further reduces maintenance costs and insurance.
Development of 3D printing technology has gone a long way. The more valuable and more important is the fact that the ideas invented in scientific laboratories are translated into reality and eventually fall into the hands of ordinary people, making their life better. The same thing happened with the new mobile 3D printing technology.
Organic production has moved to construction sites and made it possible to actualize projects and dreams that had previously seemed impossible.
This wave of interest in 3D printing grows and grows. And rightly so. Who knows what we will be able to print tomorrow.
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