Over the last few years, 3D printers have been used to make everyday objects and even weapons. However, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology has built a robotic system to construct a building in less than 14 hours. Theses dome like buildings are 50 feet in diameter and are 12 feet high.
The robot, apart of MIT’s “Digital Construction Platform,” is still very much a prototype but is now being shown off in several videos. It consists mainly of a large robotic arm for reach, and a smaller arm for precision. The arms can also have different tools attached, such as a welding tool or a tool for foam material for building these structures. In theory, the robot could be moved to a live construction site tomorrow and play a key role in helping build a structure.
Because 3D printing material is much cheaper than traditional house building material, researchers are looking to implement the robot to build homes in remote locations, or structures for displaced families after large natural disasters. The robot can be powered by electricity or solar panels themselves, making the building process easier in areas that are remote and don’t have power or if there is no power in cities after a disaster. However, because the robot is so new, it must be monitored by humans to address any safety problems.
MIT’s vision for the machines is to be used in extreme climate/environmental conditions such as Antarctica, the moon, or even Mars and make buildings out of ice or dust/dirt from these planets. The only problem is that even the use in remote locations after disasters is at least 5 years in the future. There are currently too many unknowns in the building and safety process. These new innovations in 3D printing are going to play a large part in disaster relief and further space exploration, just not any time soon. With technology advancing at the pace it is, these machines will no doubt get better, be able to build more complex structures, and become even more affordable. It will be key, to keep funding and research for these kinds of projects around, as they will play a large part in the future.