1:52 Hadrian X
5:05 Gantry vs Robot arm
6:01 Building Science
3D printing has been one of the most revolutionary technologies of the past few decades, and it’s starting to make its mark on the construction industry as well. With the ability to print complex shapes and structures in a matter of hours, 3D printing has the potential to transform the way we build our homes, offices, and even entire cities.
Now, I have some reservations about the use of 3D concrete printing in construction which we discussed in a previous video. But I still believe in the value and potential of automation in the construction industry. What if we are looking at the wrong type of 3d printers? Is there a technology or machine that is superior to these liquid concrete printers, but doesn’t get as much media attention?
Hadrian X is a blocklaying machine invented by Fast Brick Robotics in Australia. It builds structural walls, brick by brick, in outdoor, uncontrolled environments. It produces far less waste than traditional construction methods, while improving site safety. The robot can lay 200 bricks an hour, approximately 10 times faster than humans. FBR’s technology turns digital Revit models into CMU block models to calculate the exact number and shape of bricks needed. They use precise, optimized and rectified blocks made of lightweight aggregate concrete. Their blocks are 12 times larger than standard house bricks which drastically increases the speed of construction.
These bricks are transported to the job site on the back of a truck. They are fed through a huge telescopic robotic arm that can extend 25 meters or 82 feet. A special construction adhesive that is twice as strong as mortar, is applied to the ends of the brick. With the aid of a laser tracking head, the concrete blocks are placed at a precise spot on the wall. The robot head is dynamically stabilized so it corrects for any interference or vibration in the boom. The Hadrian X system can build the structural concrete walls of a 4 bedroom, 2 bath house in just 29 laying hours.
There are a couple of reasons why I think the Hadrian system could be superior to the 3D printed liquid concrete system we see so often.
GANTRY VS ROBOT ARM
The first is the advantage of a robot arm over a gantry system. A gantry is the frame that supports a printer head as it moves along the x, y and z axes. This frame takes time to set up, it requires solid concrete footings, it needs to be perfectly level and it uses up space on the job site. The Hadrian robot arm arrives at the job site on the back of a truck. It doesn’t require additional concrete footings or time consuming calibration and it takes up less space on the site.
I think we’re expecting too much from a single layer. These printed walls are meant to provide structural support, insulation, and act as air, water and vapor protection. The Hadrian robotic arm system only prints the hidden, inner structural core. Insulation is a separate layer as are the air and water protection layers.
I stayed at ICON’s 3D printed house in Austin a while back. While it was impressive, there were certain quirks that can be difficult to get used to. Tiny microfractures in the concrete wall, wobbly and uneven print lines, rough joints at windows and doors and even dust collection on the layers. On the flip side, houses built with the Hadrian X look like traditional houses, for better or for worse. his makes the technology adaptable to different cultures and geographic locations.
Both technologies are more expensive than traditional construction because they are new, still working out the kinks and trying to scale up. Both printers require precise floor slabs with only 3mm to 5mm of variation which are a little more expensive. The custom bricks that the Hadrian robot uses are also 10% more expensive than traditional CMU blocks. In my opinion, the most important difference between the 2 technologies is the mindset of the people behind them.
• 100 Home 3D-print…
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