Army to build tallest 3D-printed buildings in US • The Register

The US Department of Defense will build and test the largest 3D printed buildings in the Americas: three barracks at a Lone Star military base.

Scheduled to be built in Fort Bliss, El Paso, Texas, over the next 10 months, the three 3D-printed concrete barracks will each measure more than 5,700 square feet (529.55 square meters), making them the largest large 3D printed structures to date. built on the mainland.

That title was previously held by the Texas Military Department, which had additive manufacturing company ICON build 3,800 square feet (353 square meters), a 72-bunk barracks in 2021. The military was able to order these facilities after changing its unified facilities criteria, used to decide what can be purchased, to include structures made of 3D-printed building materials.

The barracks are made from Lavacrete, ICON’s proprietary building material blend. According to the company, the compressive strength of its high-strength concrete is between 2,000 and 3,500 PSI.

While it may not match the strength of the toughest modern concrete, Lavacrete is strong enough to serve as barracks walls, and the DoD plans to continue experimenting with 3D-printed buildings at the Defense Innovation Unit, its experimental wing.

“Building facilities using this advanced technology saves labor costs, reduces planning time and increases the speed of building future facilities. We are looking at other ways to use this innovative technique for the rapid construction of other types of facilities beyond barracks,” said Lt. Gen. Doug Gabram, commander of U.S. Army Facilities Management Command.

The build itself is made by ICON’s Vulcan 3D printer, a 46-foot-wide, 15-foot-tall (14 meters x 4.6 meters) robot that can print between 5 and 10 inches (∼12, 5cm-25cm) of concrete per second. Vulcan is controlled via a smartphone/tablet app and only mixes concrete when needed, reducing waste and saving on construction costs.

ICON has built several 3D printed homes and has entered into agreements with space exploration companies to develop 3D printing technologies for building structures on the Moon and Mars. ®

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