Engineers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) developed a novel method that could revolutionize architecture.
The team created a 3D printing system called the Digital Construction Platform (DCP) that can produce the basic structure of an entire building through a process that is faster and less expensive than traditional construction methods.
DCP is essentially comprised of a tracked vehicle built with an industrial robotic arm that has a small, precision-motion robotic arm at the end. Users can take control of the arm and operate a conventional or unconventional construction nozzle for spraying insulation or pouring concrete.
The scientists performed a proof-of-concept test with a prototype to construct the basic structure of the walls of a 50-foot-diameter, 12 foot high dome.
DCP was able to fabricate the foam-insulation framework used to form a finished concrete structure in less than 14 hours of “printing” time. The nozzles of the system could be adapted to alter the density of the material being poured and even mix different materials together.
During the test, the system was able to produce an insulating foam shell that could be left in place once the concrete was poured. Interior and exterior finish materials could be applied directly to the surface, according to the announcement.
The scientists also made DCP develop a wide, built-in bench inside their prototype dome demonstrating the machine’s ability to create complex shapes and overhangs.
DCP’s other potential capabilities include the ability to synthesize data about the site during the building process using a series of built-in sensors for temperature, light, and other factors, so it can easily adapt to the environment while building the structure.
Ultimately, the researchers anticipate this system could be self-sufficient. Engineers could incorporate an electrical or solar panel power source so that DCP could operate in remote regions or areas for disaster relief to help quickly create durable shelters.
You can watch a video of DCP in action below.