It is amazing how quickly the technologies around 3D printing have been developing over the last couple of years. Not only are we seeing Moore's Law-like increases in the speeds of these prints, all the while prices are dropping substantially, but entirely new innovative approaches seem to emerge each day.
For instance, we have already seen 3D printing drones, combo 3D printer/CNC machines, a 3D printing assembly line, and all sorts of crazy new ways to print with food. Today a unique, but quite innovative approach to 3D printing has been unveiled by a team of researchers at the Institute for Advanced Architecture of Catalonia (IAAC), based in Barcelona, Spain.
One problem with 3D printers today, is that their build envelopes are limited by the size of the actual printer. In order to print a house, you need a 3D printer which is larger than that house. This severely limits the utility of any one device, and equates to substantial costs for any person or company trying to print on a large scale. A team of researchers, led by Sasa Jokic, and Petr Novikov at IAAC, and includes Stuart Maggs, Dori Sadan, Jin Shihui and Cristina Nan, have invented and worked diligently on a method of printing large scale objects, such as buildings, with mobile 3D printing robots they call Minibuilders.
The Minibuilder lineup consists of three different robotic devices, each with dimensions no larger than 42cm. Despite their small size, they are capable of printing buildings of almost any proportion. All three robots, all responsible for different functions, are required during any large 3D printing project. Working together these Minibuilders are able to produce large scale 3D prints without the need for a large scale 3D printer.
Although the technology may not have been perfected, researchers have put in place a stepping stone for a new method of printing buildings and other large object, which we are sure will continue to develop.
What do you think about this new 3D printing system? Could you see large buildings and homes eventually using a technology like this? Let us know in the Minibuilder forum thread at 3DPB.com.