Aug 31, 2016 | By Nick
A cement plant in Russia is using a novel 3D printer to recreate the tower from the Winterfell castle from Game of Thrones.
The two-storey security tower will be six meters high and will have a footprint of 6x3m, so it’s a substantial structure that will oversee the plant in Yekateringburg.
It will also showcase the company’s 3D printing skills as it has built the whole tower in situ and now wants to apply these skills to the Russian housing industry.
A Chinese firm recently built an entire villa on site with a 3D printer, so this is not the first building of its type, but this is still an impressive and forward-thinking project with a classical twist.
“When watching the first season of Game of Thrones I felt the historical era: the knights, the conquest, the spirit of competition,” said Rinat Brylin, Director General of Ekaterinburg cement plant. “I decided to build a house in the form of a small castle. Of course, I will not go to extremes and decorate all the guards in the knights with swords and shields, but the historical style is something I want to use.”
The Chinese 3D printed house had a distinctly printed look, including ridges in the walls. Brylin even flew out to visit the building and came away distinctly unimpressed. He reckoned the cement mixture was the root cause of the poor finish and he also mentioned a noxious smell due to the chemicals in the cement.
The Russian company wants to use this as a sales tool and is determined to get the details right. In fact, it wants to print walls so smooth that they do not even need plastering.
This would be a major step forward for the 3D printed construction industry. As he has a cement plant that supplies dry mixture to the demanding oil and gas industry on call, Brylin can experiment until he has the perfect 3D printable compound.
The company has opted for the more popular option of a 3D printer head mounted on a robotic arm and it’s huge. It is an impressive 8m tall, 8m long and 4m wide, so construction companies around the world might well be interested in the design.
The company laid traditional foundations, before it brought in the 3D printer. Less than two weeks later, the company had 50cm of tower constructed. “For us it is a holiday,” explained Brylin.
The 3D printer is capable of printing 50cm a day right now and the businessman is confident that, with a little development, he can produce an entire house in a matter of two or three days.
Just four people have worked on the project alongside Brylin himself and this can clearly cut the labor costs and time it takes to build a house. The walls are also built with a lattice structure, which reduces the amount of materials, retains structural integrity and also creates basic insulation from the air trapped in the wall.
The original budget for the project was just $23,000 (1.5 million Rubles). The company has spent twice that on the project, but has learned the painful lessons and is convinced it can build a 150m2 house for $8,000-$10,000 in the future.
Producing the Winterfell-style tower has grabbed the attention of local developers and the company has already entered negotiations with a local developer to 3D print a number of buildings on a 40-hectare site. Brylin suggests they’ll need 6-10 3D printers, one man for each printer to monitor the process and very little else.
This is big news in the Russian construction industry, but it is only suitable for low-rise buildings as things stand. Brylin freely admits that the time it takes to install a crane or other structure means it is simply not cost-effective to use the 3D printer for high-rise construction.
The construction industry could well change beyond recognition in the coming years as 3D printing is slowly working its way into the public consciousness. A 3D printed office was recently installed in Dubai, even though this was printed offsite, and there are a number of new systems that promise on-site construction.
This Russian project is just one hot prospect. The Institute of Advanced Architecture of Catalonia is also working on an army of smaller robots that effectively sit on the wall they are printing, before crawling over the entire structure to fill in the gaps. The institute is also looking at ways to 3D print houses from soil, in situ, which would bring the cost of construction down still further to less than $1000 for the most basic house.
We may have to combine these methods to produce the perfect 3D printed building in situ, but it is a dream that is getting closer by the day. The 3D printed Game of Thrones' tower, meanwhile, should be finished by the end of September and we're looking forward to seeing the finished product.
Posted in 3D Printing Application
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