The U.S. Marine Corps, working in collaboration with the Army and the Navy Seabees, has successfully printed concrete barracks using a 3D printer.
How long did it take to build the barracks?
The concrete 500-square-foot barracks could prove invaluable to U.S. troops in combat zones. Currently, it can take five days for 10 Marines to build a barracks out of wood.
The process took 40 hours, but could be done in a single day if the process was run by a robot. During this test, Marines had to continually monitor the progress of the printer and refill it with fresh concrete, making the process more time consuming.
Even with humans running the process, this is still significantly faster than the current system, the barracks are more secure, and only four Marines are needed to oversee the system.
"This exercise had never been done before,” Capt. Matthew Friedell said in a news release on the Marine Corps website. “People have printed buildings and large structures, but they haven’t done it onsite and all at once. This is the first-in-the-world, onsite continuous concrete print.”
It can be incredibly unsafe for Marines to focus on building protective barracks in the middle of a combat zone. This could greatly lessen that threat.
“In active or simulated combat environments, we don’t want Marines out there swinging hammers and holding plywood up,” Friedell said. “Having a concrete printer that can make buildings on demand is a huge advantage for Marines operating down range.”
In addition to building secure barracks for troops, the news release pointed out that the structure could be used to “safely and quickly print houses, schools and community buildings to replace those destroyed.”
This test was carried out at the U.S. Army Engineer Research and Development Center in Champaign, Illinois, using what is currently the world's largest 3D concrete printer. The Marine Corps Systems Command Additive Manufacturing Team will conduct further testing before the machines are ready for deployment.