In the 21st century it’s hard to surprise anyone with 3D printing. Many have seen 3D printers in action and know how they work. We load a model file in the program and printer stacks plastic layers one upon the other — and here we have a finished figure. But have you heard about construction 3D printing? This direction of additive technologies has actively developed for the last 10 years but few, except specialists, know anything about it.
The situation in the field of construction printing changed radically with the release of mobile construction 3D printer «Apis Cor». The traditional approach, implemented in other 3D printers is a portal type design. «Apis Cor» has taken a step to full mobility, using the principle of a construction crane rotating around its axis and printing structures while remaining at a center or outside the object construction.
Construction 3D printing has remained in the shadows because of its scale and difficulties. Printing large objects, such as buildings, required printers with sizes much more than the house itself. Therefore, these printers did not leave the limits of factories and research centers. Not every construction company, not to mention private builders, can afford to store, transport and maintain such a huge printer.
This avoids problems with assembly and disassemby of equipment and allows to conduct printing directly on the construction site and erect buildings, far surpassing the printer itself in size. This design ensures high printing precision and allows you to implement features and architecture of the buildings inaccessible so far.
So how does construction using mobile 3D printing technology go?
Let’s look at the basic steps.
Construction begins with the preparation of the construction site by using regular construction machinery — bulldozer rental is readily available in any region, as well as other standard services required for the construction of any house. The surface does not have to be perfect, as when using portal type printers. «Apis Cor» is able to compensate for surface roughness of up to 10 cm.
The «Apis Cor» set of equipment is designed with an emphasis on full mobility. All items are delivered to the construction site using conventional construction machinery. Workers assemble individual modules together and connect them to the power supply and water supply. Water can be provided from a pipeline or from a mobile tank. The power supply can be ensured by connecting equipment to the grid or by using a generator.
After installing and connecting your printer it automatically aligns perfectly by the horizon, and also scans the print area in order to eliminate all the irregularities of the ground. Automating these processes eliminates the need for perfect leveling of the сonstruction site surface.
Based on bump maps obtained after scanning, the printer automatically fills small holes and roughnesses of a construction site, preparing it for foundation formwork printing. Small holes and elevations will inevitably remain after standard equipment works and automatic alignment and leveling system allows to avoid additional costs involved with using specialized equipment.
Then, according to the design, the printer automatically prints the foundation formwork. Operators just monitor the accuracy of the printing process and put fiberglass inserts as required. These inserts will provide structural strength for later filling. After the formwork print completion it is filled in by hard concrete.
After concrete hardening printer switches to the walls. It raises them in much the same way as it did with formwork, with the only difference that the walls have an inner profile and a more complex structure to ensure subsequent reinforcement, insulation, pipe laying and electrical works.
When the printer prints up to windows and doors frames it leaves some space unprinted, making an opening. When it comes to the top, the operators places frame inserts, which are then sealed inside the wall. When the full story print will be finished — workers can easily install doors and windows in places.
After wall print completion engineering works are being done — we lay wiring and piping. During project development, when the house is still in a 3D model stage, engineers work on the scheme of internal communications and the design program provides special cavities inside walls to install them.
If the project requires a high degree of structural strength — for example in earthquake-prone areas — the house can feature bond beams and additional reinforcement in the walls.
After printing process is done the printer can be easily extracted from the building using a crane.
Now only a few steps remain — to blow in an insulation, do the finishing works and install the roof. The house is done!
If the building you want to print is bigger than the maximum print area of a single printer — we can use multiple synchronized printers to do the job.
Single story houses, built using «Apis Cor» mobile construction technology are ready for tenants to move in after only a few weeks from the start of construction, with building frame construction being complete in just a few days.
We hope this article allowed you to learn more about the modern method of «Apis Cor» 3D printing construction. In November our company conducts a demonstration printing of a building in the town of Stupino, Moscow region, and in December launches equipment sales on the global market. Next year you will might be able to personally see the houses being built using technologies of the future directly in your city.
Read more at apis-cor.com
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