When most of us think of 3D Printing we think of the now affordable 3D printers that sit on our desks and use plastic filament to create things we don’t really need. The world of 3D Printing is really exploding as companies find economic efficiency in commercial applications. One such company is the Bouygues Group who’s construction division expands all the way to Australia.
At the Viva Technology conference in Paris, France a couple of weeks ago, they gave attendees a live demonstration of the 3D Concrete Printing robot made by partner, CyBe Construction. The company claims the technology dramatically decreases the time required for the construction process by as much as a massive 75%. It doesn’t take an economics degree to understand that’s a massive cost saving as well.
The concrete is actually a product called CyBe MORTAR which sets in just a matter of minutes, achieving its total structural strength in about an hour. Thanks to these properties, the robot is able to extrude layer after layer building the structure in virtually any shape physics will allow.
You can see in the photo below, the limits to the size is really only limited to the scale of the robot used. In the demonstration, tucked away in the corner of the show floor (it was messy) this robot was capable of constructing entire walls. Standard walls are restricted to pretty standard shapes, but with a robot, you can form walls with angles like the ones in the photo below. Sure you may not need this for a mass-produced housing complex, but for an art gallery, museum or commercial building, its great to have that option.
Walls are just one of the applications, but as we see below, park benches and even planter boxes are also possible using the 3D concrete printing technology.
If you’re looking at the finished product here and thinking that’s not exactly aesthetically pleasing, it is possible to refine the product and paint it afterwards, which would still achieve a time/cost saving just not as much as the raw product. Its possible some applications would print into a mould to get the exact external finish faster.
In those desktop 3D Printer heads the print head is relatively tiny, but you can see what happens when we scale it up to a conrete printer, the print head is massive and made of metal, as to allow the volume of concrete necessary to be applied on each layer. Its an impressive bit of kit, but again, not exactly the cleanest booth on the show floor.
We know the readers of techAU love the technical detail so here it is. This robot is affectionately know as the CyBe R 3D P.. yep, roles right off the toungue.
The robot can move in as many as 6 axes and prints at a rate of 20cm per second. That means every 5 seconds it can cover a 1m, so you start to understand how fast this thing really is. Its arm can cover a range of 2.75m and in some applications, its placed on a height adjustable platform that means there’s almost no limitation on the height possible.
The robot connects via an Ethernet cable to a computer running dedicated CyBe software. This software can handle most CAD models and does the structural verification ahead of time, much like sending a 3D Printing project to Shapeways via Adobe Photoshop.
Check out the video below that shows a timelapse of the robot printing a pretty based rectangular wall.
Now for something a little harder, here’s a freeform object.