A technology startup in Chattanooga, TN, reportedly has built the world’s largest free-form 3-D printer and is using it to construct walls for new homes.
Gizmodo blogger Adam Clark Estes reported that architect-owned Branch Technology is printing lightweight scaffolding to form the walls’ structural core. Builders on the construction site will cover the scaffolding with spray foam, concrete and stucco. The scaffolding is made from ABS plastic (acrylonitrile butadiene styrene) and reinforcing carbon fiber.
Each wall attaches to the next “like Lego,” the company’s founder and CEO, Platt Boyd, told Estes. The executive said the walls are stronger than traditional walls made from wood studs, will be less expensive to build, and will take “a little less time than a normal construction process,” the blogger reported.
Estes called the walls “a massive step forward for 3-D-printed buildings,” and said they could put the U.S. at the forefront of this emerging construction technology.
To date, Amsterdam and China have reaped the most publicity for grand efforts using 3-D printing in construction. Dubai last month announced it will be home to the world’s first office building printed with 3-D technology.
Dutch architects broke ground, so to speak, on a 3-D printed canal house with plastic walls and furniture, but ran into problems with the consistency of the printed materials. That project could take three years to complete.
The Chinese claimed to have printed 10 houses in a single day from a concrete aggregate fashioned from construction and industrial waste. Each of the small, simply designed homes cost less than $5,000 to print in pieces, which were assembled on the job site.