3D-Printing an entire building is reality, no longer just a theory

Researchers at MIT have confirmed that the future of the A/E/C industry is now in fact here.

In the proof-of-concept, a vehicle of sorts, moving along a track, carries a robotic arm that utilizes a precision-controlled nozzle to place a variety of materials including spray foam insulation and concrete. ScienceDaily reports:

Structures built with this system could be produced faster and less expensively than traditional construction methods allow, the researchers say. A building could also be completely customized to the needs of a particular site and the desires of its maker. Even the internal structure could be modified in new ways; different materials could be incorporated as the process goes along, and material density could be varied to provide optimum combinations of strength, insulation, or other properties.

Ultimately, the researchers say, this approach could enable the design and construction of new kinds of buildings that would not be feasible with traditional building methods.

The robotic system is described this week in the journal Science Robotics, in a paper by Steven Keating PhD ’16, a mechanical engineering graduate and former research affiliate in the Mediated Matter group at the MIT Media Lab; Julian Leland and Levi Cai, both research assistants in the Mediated Matter group; and Neri Oxman, group director and associate professor of media arts and sciences.

And this is what that future might look like: