Construction industry is looking to take advantages of the advantages that 3d printing has to offer; there are few companies like WinSun, D-Shape and Contour Crafting that already launched commercial 3d printers. The adoption of Construction 3D printers may be slow as the technology is still at a very nascent stage but I feel that one day all construction will be done using these printers. The Construction industry has been using computer aided manufacturing for some time now and replacement of humans with machines looks natural.
Until now construction 3D printing technology has been controlled the companies we discussed earlier and there are obvious reasons for it. When we talk about Construction printers we are referring to mammoth machines which need to be robust to handle difficult raw materials like cement and concrete. Building such machines is technologically difficult and economically expensive, especially for individuals and small companies. But all these limitations did not stop Alex Le Roux a Mechanical Engineer, Baylor University in Texas from making a RepRapbased 8' x '8' x 8' 3D concrete printer.
Talking about his extrusion-based 3D printer, Alex Le Roux said "The printer is Version 1 of the machine that will go on to print small houses. A lot of the tough engineering problems were solved with this first printer, for example, and most specifically, the ingredients of the concrete mixture, the extruder design, and the electronics to support such a massive machine. Now it is time to scale up, which is a difficult process, but relatively straightforward in terms of engineering effort."
This 3D Concrete Printer is a privately funded project by Alex Le Roux and not a school project. Building the printer costed $2,500, which includes his research and development cost. Building this printer would cost significantly lesser when the instructions are available on Rep Rap sites. Le Roux and his team are also looking for investors to turn the printer into a commercial product.
Alex Le Roux explains, “The printer has been self-funded so far, which I believed to be weakness at first, but I am now coming to believe that there have and will continue to be benefits of operating on a small budget. For example, we had to keep an extremely narrow focus on what was truly important and avoid engineering rabbit holes."
He gave further details and specifications about the printer when he said "Layer heights are at approximately .75 cm which may sound large compared to a desktop 3D printer but when we examine a small building structure with that kind of resolution in comes out looking quite amazing and allows for extremely creative and complex designs to be printed."
Alex Le Roux’s 3D concrete printer will be the best bet for companies that are looking to evaluate the feasibility of the use of 3D printers in the construction businesses they own. The concrete printed parts that Le Roux has published on his Tumbler page look to be perfect replacement for larger concrete slabs being used today. This would freedom to designers and construction engineers to design houses that are modular and easy to assemble. The possibilities are unlimited and every one would want to lay their hands on the printer but Le Roux hasn’t published much else about his 3D printer project. We would suggest you keep a track of his Tumblr page for regular updates about the amazing project.
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