July 16, 2015 | By Alec

While new and exciting applications of 3D printing technology are making huge impacts in a number of industries, few are as economically promising as 3D printed homes. In that respect, it is hardly surprising that quite a few projects are working towards commercially viable, large-scale concrete 3D printers. But those initiatives are about to a new and very impressive French competitor. For, as you can see in the clip below, a team of French scientists from the University of Nantes have developed the INNOprint 3D printer, which is capable of building emergency housing in just under 30 minutes.

This very remarkable feat puts a whole new spin on efficient 3D printing, as most high speed machines feature just a very small build space. But this team of researchers from the Research Institute of Civil and Mechanical Engineering (IRCCyN) at the University of Nantes, with support from project engineers from French company Capacites, have essentially created a high speed printer with a build space of 3 square meters. This INNOprint 3D Printer was developed following a request from industrial partners, and was largely the achievement of engineering students in Nantes.

Like virtually all construction-oriented 3D printers, the INNOprint 3D Printer essentially consists of a robotic arm with a printing mechanism attached, rather than a Cartesian or delta setup, as this maximizes flexibility. While the machine can currently only work with polyurethane filament, more materials will be added to the INNOprint’s repertoire in the near future. And to showcase the amazing speed and efficiency of this 3D printer, they recorded a remarkable project: to 3D print a small emergency home that is insulated, sealed and safe to live in. You can see the amazing speed of this machine – the home is finished in under 30 minutes – in the clip below. Even the roof is 3D printed without support structures.

The team, led by professor Benoit Ferret, obviously had a commercial goal in mind, but also a humanitarian one. As the professor says on his university’s website, they took their inspiration from recent news about natural disasters as well. ‘You have to imagine that, during a disaster, the robot can be shipped by boat alongside raw material containers and the human relief supplies. There, on demand and according to the desired size, in 20 to 30 minutes, an emergency housing can be realized and used for several months until a more permanent reconstruction,’ he says.

While this feat alone is very impressive – and indeed would be a welcome addition in places as Nepal or Syria right now – the French ambitions don’t stop there. The laboratory is continuing to work on construction-oriented 3D printers, with the next goal being a build space of up to 7 meters high and an unlimited horizontal plane. While the 3D printer itself would be use, it would be exactly what the construction industry needs to viably and commercially use 3D printing. In short, the University of Nantes and the INNOprint 3D Printer are going places.



Posted in 3D Printers



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