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A Robotic 3D Printer Brought Directly to the Construction Site. Printed an Atypical Room from Concrete

3D printing of concrete, Wrote about us

3D printing is increasingly making its mark in the construction industry. Last week, local builders for the first time utilized a printer directly on the construction site of an apartment building. In just two hours, on the terrace of a house in Prague-Modřany, it built a small room out of layers of concrete. You can see what it looked like in the video.

Large constructions in the Czech Republic have so far mostly used 3D printing to produce individual parts, which were printed in advance and transported to the site. In Prague-Modřany, a construction company decided to experiment with printing directly on site.

The robotic 3D printer was temporarily installed on the fourth floor above ground. According to the architect's plans, this space is intended to provide future residents with a small sanitary room for hygiene purposes. This is exactly what the builders attempted to print on site.

"The structure is approximately 2.5 by 2 meters, with a height of just under 3 meters," Martin Havlíček, the project manager from Skanska company, detailed to Novinky. A task that would take a person several days was completed by the robotic machine in two hours.

"The robot can move at a speed of up to half a meter per second. This construction used up one cubic meter of material," specified Dominik Stupka from ICE Industrial Services, the company that supplied the printer.

"It processes regular concrete, which is available at any concrete plant. And it's only here on the construction site that certain chemicals and other additives are mixed into it by specific methods to modify the properties of the concrete to make it suitable for 3D printing," he explained, adding that the development of the technology took them about two years.

The 3D printer with a part of the printed product in the background, photo:

Fast and Precise

Such machines can partially compensate for the lack of workforce in the field. "People are increasingly reluctant to do manually demanding work, which is understandable. And this machine – not that people are not needed for construction – but it has the advantage of shifting human labor to the area of design," Stupka mentioned.

Architects and designers prepare the designs down to the smallest details in a virtual environment, and may also run simulations in a digital model. The printing data for the robot can also be adjusted right up until the last moment before implementation. "And the implementation itself is then carried out by the machine, thereby eliminating the need for brute strength. This is where we see the biggest advantage," Stupka said.

The 3D printed room will be located on the left side of the terrace, photo:

Builders also appreciate the work speed, efficiency, and precision of the machine, greater safety at work, lower waste production, and greater recycling possibilities.

Economic factors also play a role. "We will be evaluating the financial costs associated with 3D printing, but it can already be said that the costs are comparable to conventional constructions," Havlíček explained.

According to both representatives, 3D printing is the future of the field. "We will continue to develop and improve the project to make it even more practical in use. That's why we're here, to perform a real test on a real construction site," Stupka added. No significant problems were encountered during the work.

The construction company plans to work with the technology on a larger scale, using printed prefabricated balcony slabs and facade cladding in the building.

The photo: ICE Industrial Services

The original article can be found here.