Scientists at Singapore’s Nanyang Technological University (NTU) have developed a single-robot industrial platform that uses additive manufacturing (AM) to create concrete structures.
Adopting a print-while-moving approach, the team’s robotic arm is capable of 3D printing different sized single-piece structures, and completing large-scale construction printing, all by itself. The bot’s development could lead to the more effective application of AM in the construction sector, in addition to increasing the scale and structural properties of concrete formations that it’s possible to 3D print.
“Our system is mounted on a mobile robot. The ability to move the robot base in space allows our robot to print structures that are larger than itself,” said Pham Qunag Cuong, Associate Professor at NTU. “Also, having a mobile base makes it easier to bring the robot into the construction site and move it around inside.”
Advances in both 3D printing materials and system design, have brought with them the prospect of fully-automated construction, yet scalability remains a major obstacle to widespread adoption of AM in building and construction. For many of the existing gantry and arm-based printing systems, the sizes of the structures they can print are constrained either by the limited volume of the gantry, or by the reach of the robot’s arm. While some 3D printers have been mounted onto a mobile platform, printing can only be performed when the system is stationary, limiting the size of the structures that can be produced in a single take.