Building things is getting easier and easier. Researchers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have invented a giant 3D printer that can build the basic structure of a building in less than a day, just over 13 hours to be exact.
The prototype, completed with a long industrial robotic arm and caterpillar treads, was recently used to print a dome-like structure, which was made out of a combination of foam and concrete, and is 50 feet in diameter and 12 feet high. Currently, that’s the biggest robot-built structure ever.
The giant 3D printer is programmable and can be operated with the push of a button. In the future, the MIT researchers hope that it will take full autonomy when deployed in extreme conditions like the Antarctic tundra, and can use other materials harvested from the surrounding area.
“Our future vision for this project is to have self-sufficient robotic systems,” says Steven Keating, a recent PhD grad in mechanical engineering who also authored the paper on the project. “Just like a tree gathers its own energy, our platform is being developed toward the design goal of being able to gather its own energy. We’ve shown that through photovoltaic energy. And being able to gather and use local materials.”(zlf/gaekon)