3D Printing Minibuilder Can Now Print Giant Structures


As the world of 3D printing dashes through milestones every day, the builder of your house could now be this trio of amazing robots, very aptly called, the Minibuilders. You are right! There already are robots that can build you houses; yet size has always remained one major constraint for the 3D printers. The idea is that a printer can’t print something bigger than itself. Hence, it followed that to print your house; you need a robot that is bigger than your house. Woah! Certainly, not economical!


A team of researchers from the Institute for Advanced Architecture of Catalonia (IAAC) based in Barcelona took this challenge of removing the size constriction. The robots that they have developed not only construct things larger than their size, but they finish the job in one go. Unlike the well-worn technology of 3D printing where segments were printed independently to be assembled later, printing through Minibuilders is a continuous process, layer after layer. This, hence, saves the resources to transport and fix the individual pieces together.


The instructions to the trio are provided by a central computer. Each minibuilder also uses its sensors and local positioning system, and coordinates with the others in the trio. The largest of these is just 16.5 in wide and hence comes the name ‘Minibuilders’.

The Supplier robot, not the part of trio, provides the right amount of liquid building material to each of the Minibuilders.


First comes the Foundation robot which constructs the base for the whole structure. It ejects the liquid in a defined pattern through its printhead.


When the structure goes higher than the foundation robot’s limit, the Grip Robot takes over. It moves around the structure, pouring more material and using heaters to dry the liquid.


The last of the family, the Vacuum Robot, uses its vacuum operated suction cup to stick to the freshly constructed structure. It gives final touches to the construction by reinforcing it through vertical motion i.e perpendicular to the motion of first two robots.



If you still doubt the efficiency of Minibuilders, you need to watch this trailer:

The demonstration piece shown in the video lies in the exterior exhibition space of the Design Museum of Barcelona. It leaves us hopeful that swarm of 3D printing robots would soon be solving the challenges of mass construction.

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