Concrete igloos: Moscow engineer has developed a 3D printer for printing domed buildings

Engineer Alexei Ostanin, author of the Printed Dome project, is raising funds to refine and start mass production of construction 3D printers of his own design.

As Alexey explains, the goal of the project is to create an easy-to-operate and maintain construction 3D printer, allowing for fast, inexpensive and high-quality construction of houses. Such systems make it possible to print permanent concrete formwork. Due to a high degree of automation and geometric freedom, the cost of labor and construction materials is reduced, and it gives a reduction in the cost of finished structures.

Windows, doors and technological openings for internal communications are formed automatically by a control program. The external and internal layers of formwork are formed in one pass in the horizontal plane, and between them the cross and longitudinal reinforcement ties are laid. Between the layers it is possible to lay insulation directly in the process of 3D-printing or after the end of the work.

Alexei’s additive system is conceptually similar to the development of the Irkutsk company Apis Cor (pictured above). It is based on rotating telescopic boom with an extruder that applies building mixes. Such systems usually print around themselves, but being quite light and compact so they are easily transported from place to place, as Apis Cor demonstrated during the construction of a record building in Dubai.

Apparently, the main difference between two systems is in the vertical positioning: if in the 3D printer from Apis Cor the entire boom is lifted layer by layer, then here a rotary-lifting mechanism is used. Apparently, this is the reason for the choice of dome structures shown in the illustrations and video. Or maybe it is vice versa: the system itself can be designed specifically for 3D-printed domes, as it is quite an interesting direction in terms of cost reduction, increasing the internal volume with minimal material consumption and increasing energy efficiency due to the relatively small area of external surfaces compared to traditional “boxes”.

There are other advantages as well. Domes are relatively light, self-supporting structures, so you can somewhat save on the foundation. Such buildings exhibit high seismic stability and eliminate roof collapse under the weight of snow. In general, this is an attempt to adapt the centuries-old proven igloos to wider edges and modern construction techniques. The main drawback of such buildings is probably the lack of ergonomics, because the round walls are poorly adapted for rectangular objects – furniture, kitchen equipment and the like.

With the support of sponsors, Alexei hopes to start small-scale production of construction 3D printers as early as next year. You can take part in the crowdfunding campaign on the Boomstarter platform at this link.

Continue reading about construction 3D printers here: Robotics in Construction Review by Top 3D Shop

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