- The world's first 3-D-printed excavator is set to make an appearance next year at the CONEXPO-CON/AGG and IFPE 2017 event in Las Vegas, 3DPrint.com reported.
- The 3-D-printed excavator project is a collaboration between Georgia Tech, the University of Minnesota, Association of Equipment Manufacturers, National Fluid Power Association, Center for Compact and Efficient Fluid Power, Oak Ridge National Laboratory and the National Science Foundation. Oak Ridge Lab will print the final design.
- The hydraulic-powered excavator is also the first large-scale example of the 3-D-printed-steel process.
The team from Georgia Tech is designing the excavator’s boom and bucket with integrated hydraulics, and the University of Minnesota is working independently on the hydraulic oil reservoir, heat exchanger and cooling system. In addition to the "pre-printed" excavator, the conference will also feature a second one to be printed live on the exhibition floor.
Oak Ridge National Lab made headlines last year when it unveiled a house and a car— made from components printed on a 3-D printer — that can transfer energy to one another. Clayton Homes, the largest U.S. manufacturer of modular homes, and Chicago-based architecture firm Skidmore, Owings & Merrill worked with Oak Ridge to design and build the house and car. Both were printed on a fast 3-D printer called BAAM with a carbon fiber-reinforced polymer material, similar to the material used to make the world's first 3-D-printed car in 2014.
Plans for 3-D printing are becoming more ambitious, but the construction industry hasn't yet seen the predicted proliferation of 3-D printed items in the marketplace. However, Dubai officials announced this week the Dubai Future Agenda, which outlines am ambitious plan to 3-D print 25% of all the city's buildings by 2030. The citywide initiative will span all industries from construction to the medical industry, and officials said the technology will allow them to build structures in 10% of typical construction time. Dubai established itself as a 3-D printing pioneer last year with its plans for the first 3-D-printed office building.
Other large-scale 3-D printing initiatives include 3-D printer developer WASP’s plans to print an entire Italian village, plus furnishings, with its mammoth delta-style printer Big Delta. WASP said Big Delta will use local soil to create the village’s structures, proving that it’s possible to construct solid housing almost anywhere, including in the developing world or disaster areas.