AI News, Smart technology for synchronized 3D printing of concrete

Smart technology for synchronized 3D printing of concrete

This method of concurrent 3D-printing, known as swarm printing, paves the way for a team of mobile robots to print even bigger structures in future.

Using a specially formulated cement mix suitable for 3-D printing, this new development will allow for unique concrete designs currently not possible with conventional casting.

Having multiple mobile robots that can 3D print in sync means large structures like architectural features and specially-designed facades can be printed anywhere as long as there is enough space for the robots to move around the work site.

'We envisioned a team of robots which can be transported to a work site, print large pieces of concrete structures and then move on to the next project once the parts have been printed,' explained Asst Prof Pham from NTU's School of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering.

Professor Chua Chee Kai, Executive Director of the Singapore Centre for 3D Printing said disruptive Industry 4.0 technologies like additive manufacturing, can be advanced even further when combined with other innovative technologies like robotics, AI, materials science and green manufacturing techniques.

Moving forward, the NTU research team will look at integrating even more robots to print larger scale structures, optimising printing algorithm for consistent performance and to improve the concrete material for faster curing.

NTU Singapore Researchers Develop Mobile 3D Printing Concrete Collaborative Robots

There’s been a lot of talk about 3D printing construction robots recently, and while we’ve seen some of these robots receive help with their task from drones, we don’t often see them working together to build structures…until now.

Robot arms can be used to print anywhere within reach of the arms, and there have been some gantry systems that are able to 3D print structures, so long as the structure is smaller than it is, of course.

Multiple robots also means that you can make stronger, more complex structures at an increased rate of speed, because, as Ackerman put it, “you don’t run into the problem of trying to bond wet concrete to dry concrete where two parts intersect.”

Because the mobile robot system developed by the NTU Singapore researchers can move around and thus define its own build volume, it can actually build structures that are essentially arbitrary in size without needing to make many system changes.

One such application is to allow automated construction in hard-to-reach, remote areas, such as underground caves, the Moon or Mars, to which it is inconvenient or even impossible to bring other kinds of machine required for existing cementitious material printing methods.”

When it comes to getting the robots to move during 3D printing, Pham explained that it will require “even higher precision in the localization of the base…to ensure that the layers are appropriately positioned one above the other.”

The team will also be working to add on-board obstacle (and human) detection to improve the autonomy of the robots, in addition to putting the robot arms on scissor lifts to increase their reach.

Tiny ants working in a coordinated team can create some incredibly complex structures.

To solve the construction scale problem without resorting to piecemeal printing, a team led by NTU Singapore’s Assistant Professor Pham Quang Cuong began looking into the possibility of printing a structure with two or more robots at the same time.

To create the paths the robots would follow, and ensure they didn’t bump into each other while printing, the team divided the 3D CAD model of the structure into thin slices and formatted the robots’

Using their maps and sensors, the robots were able to print a structure measuring 1.86m x 0.46m x 0.13m (6.10ft x 1.5ft x 0.43ft) in eight minutes, twice as fast as working with sequential printing.

They plan to develop a better mobility-planning system for rough terrain, as most construction sites have, and add more sensors to the nozzle to determine how it should move to offset terrain changes.

NTU Singapore shows two 3D printing construction robots are better than one

team of NTU researchers led by assistant professor Pham Quang Cuong has developed a construction 3D printing process that relies on two mobile robots that work in unison to build up concrete structures.

With two robots working simultaneously, the configuration can print forms that would be impossible to create using traditional construction process and in a much shorter time frame.

The underlying idea behind the construction robots is that if they are mobile and can move around a construction site with relative ease, they can print buildings more easily and effectively than many existing construction 3D printers (which themselves can be bulky and more large-scale than the structures they print).

“We envisioned a team of robots which can be transported to a work site, print large pieces of concrete structures and then move on to the next project once the parts have been printed,”

In the printing stage, the robots are controlled using precise location positioning as they print parts with good alignment, making sure that joints between the separate sections overlap.

“Such an innovation demonstrates to the industry what is feasible now, and proves what is possible in the future if we are creative in developing new technologies to augment conventional building and construction methods.”

Robot team prints 3D concrete structure

Nanyang Technological University (NTU) Singapore said that method of concurrent 3D-printing, known as swarm printing, paves the way for a team of mobile robots to print even bigger structures in future.

Currently, 3D-printing of large concrete structures requires huge printers that are larger than the printed objects, which is unfeasible since most construction sites have space constraints, pointed out team.

Having multiple mobile robots that can 3D-print in sync means large structures such as architectural features and specially-designed facades can be printed anywhere as long as there is enough space for the robots to move around the site.

“We envisioned a team of robots which can be transported to a work site, print large pieces of concrete structures and then move on to the next project once the parts have been printed,”

Moving forward, the NTU research team will look at integrating even more robots to print larger structures, optimising printing algorithm for consistent performance and improving the concrete material for faster curing.

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