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Army Engineer Research & Development Center Creates Largest 3D Printed Building in US

Picture of Hanna Watkin
by Hanna Watkin
Dec 13, 2017

A team from the US Army Engineer Research and Development Center (ERDC) 3D printed the country’s largest building in just 21 hours.

As 3D printing concrete becomes easier and faster, there’s no telling how it’ll revolutionize architecture. So, could it be used to quickly create homes for refugees or the homeless, too?

In Champaign, Illinois, the US Army Engineer Research and Development Center (ERDC) has designed and created a 3D printed, 512 square-foot (47.5 square meters) concrete structure.

This technology is currently being used for “military purposes” as it is a barracks hut or B-Hut. The 3D print is the result of a three year US Army Program called, “Automated Construction of Expeditionary Structures,” or ACES for short.

What’s impressive is that it only took 21 hours to print the entire concrete structure. This means that short-term housing solutions would be possible on a larger scale with 3D printing technology.

“It could be used to make refugee housing. It could be used to print disaster relief housing. Its applications have barely been touched because we are on the cusp of this developing technology,” says Megan Kreiger, the US Army ERDC mechanical engineer.

Army Engineer Research and Development Center

3D Printing a Concrete Building

The printed structure looks very much like a concrete house. However, Kreiger points out that it’s certainly possible to create a more ‘traditional look.’ For example, check out this residential 3D printed home in Russia.

By now, we know 3D printing is quick. But there are plenty of other benefits. For example, housing structures of this kind aren’t just cost-effective but also better for the planet. When builders use additive manufacturing, they produce less waste. And, these homes are more energy efficient.

Better yet, ACES would reduce the number building materials shipped by half. Plus, these 3D printed houses would reduce manpower needs by 62% in comparison to a plywood construction.

If the US Army can cut down on materials shipped, they could reduce their logistical requirements.

“ACES provides a capability to print custom designed expeditionary structures on-demand, in the field, using locally available materials. ACES will allow the Army to print buildings and other required infrastructure, such as barriers, culverts and obstacles on location,” says CERL ACES program manager, Dr. Michael Case.

Although this is an exciting update, there’s still a long way to go before this technology becomes the standard for creating homes, as All3DP has already written here. But it’s certainly a very good start.

Source: Fox Illinois 

Army Engineer Research and Development Center

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