Aug 24, 2017 | By Tess

The U.S. Army Construction Engineering Research Laboratory (CERL), based in Champaign, Illinois, has announced the successful construction of a 3D printed concrete barracks spanning an impressive 512 square feet. The concrete structure was made possible by 3D printing technology developed by CERL in partnership with NASA.

The 3D printed barracks were manufactured as part of the U.S. Army’s three-year “Automated Construction of Expeditionary Structures” (ACES) program, which has focused on the construction of semi-permanent buildings using additive manufacturing processes.

Notably, the ACES program has prioritized the use of locally sourced materials such as concrete for the 3D printed construction, with the goal of implementing the technology in the field. “ACES provides a capability to print custom designed expeditionary structures on-demand, in the field, using locally available materials,” said Dr. Michael Case, program manager of CERL ACES.

According to Case, the aim of the 3D printing construction initiative is to enable the army to easily and efficiently build structures such as barracks, barriers, culverts, and obstacles in the field. The technology could also have important applications in disaster relief, a route which is being explored by the army in partnership with Caterpillar Inc.

Aside from being able to build structures from local materials (and thus reducing the building materials that require shipping), the ACES project offers a number of other benefits. Perhaps most significantly, that it purportedly “reduces construction manpower requirements” by 62% compared to a more conventional plywood-based construction.

“The ACES team designed, built, and validated an additive, three-dimensional concrete printing technology that is a real game changer,” commented Case. “Unlike previous efforts, ACES can use up to 3/8” aggregate in the concrete that is used. In addition, the ACES project paid particular attention to methods of reinforcing printed concrete, both horizontally and vertically.”

(Images: Mike Jazdyk / US Army Corps of Engineers)

CERL has been working closely with NASA to improve and advance its ACES technology. Specifically, NASA has been collaborating to make the concrete 3D printing system more mobile. The 512-square-foot barracks was 3D printed in a “theater of operation,” and was helped along thanks to a dry goods delivery batching system that was designed by NASA researchers.

CERL says that a NASA team is currently helping it to design, develop, and test a third generation of its concrete 3D printing system that will be unveiled as soon as next month. NASA, as we well know, is exploring various additive manufacturing technologies for in space applications—in situ extraterrestrial construction being one of the most promising areas.



Posted in 3D Printing Application



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