A new video show the challenges and successes of working with construction 3D printers.
Several ventures have developed what I’ve been calling “construction 3D printers”, including COBOD, ICON and others. These are essentially scaled up 3D printer motion systems that use some form of concrete pump toolhead, with specially engineered material.
These systems are able to extrude large concrete structures, layer by layer. It’s possible to “print” buildings, homes, and other outdoor concrete structures, and many examples of this have been successfully completed.
I should point out, as I usually do, that these machines DO NOT 3D PRINT HOMES IN 24 HOURS. They can relatively quickly print the concrete portions of a structure, and do so with more complex geometry than the typical “box style”. The remainder of the building must be fitted out with the usual HVAC, plumbing, electrical, surface coverings, flooring, roofing, windows, etc. In other words, the projects are the same as regular build projects, except that the concrete portions are done differently. The concrete portions may be more complex, as it’s easy to take advantage of the computer controlled deposition.
The important thing to understand here is that the manufacturers of the construction 3D printers are not actually the folks that operate them. Just like “regular” 3D printers, they are sold to other companies that use them for their own applications.
In the case of construction 3D printers, the other parties are traditional construction companies that have the inspiration to try something new and different: 3D printing.
These companies in almost all cases have had little to no exposure to the technology, even in desktop form. Thus, when they embark on a project to use one of these construction 3D printers, it’s an entirely new experience and there is much to learn.
By chance I ran into a very intriguing video from YouTuber Jarett Gross, who focuses on construction 3D printing. This particular video involves a construction company, Emergent 3D, using COBOD’s BOD2 construction 3D printer to build a small residence. The interesting part is that it is the very first time this company has done so, and therefore they had a big learning curve.
The video is particularly fascinating because the Emergent 3D folks encounter many issues that have analogies in the desktop 3D printing world, such as layer duration, or slicing problems.
In a way I felt the same when I went through my first encounters with a 3D printer: you just don’t know what will happen and have to experiment. Over time I was able to understand what was going on and how to properly print, and it seems the Emergent 3D workers are doing the same in the video.
This video also portrays the activity of construction 3D printing in a way I haven’t seen previously, as most of the material we’ve encountered is provided by manufacturers that tend to not show the messy parts of the process.
You can learn quite a bit about the reality of 3D printing from this video.