The US Marine Corps is testing the use a large concrete-based 3D printer to rapidly create barracks. The project has taken place at the US Army Engineer Research and Development Center in Illinois, where the I Marine Expeditionary Force used the printer to create a 500-sqft barracks hut in only 40 hours. Such technology could be used following natural disasters, among other things.
Concrete 3D-printers aren’t a new invention, but they haven’t been adopted by any military as a tool. That could change in the near future, according to the US Marines, which reports that its Additive Manufacturing Team at the Marine Corps Systems Command worked with the I Marine Expeditionary Force in Illinois.
Working also with the Navy Seabees and US Army, the Marines used a concrete 3D printer to produce a relatively large barracks, demonstrating the use of a concept that may pave the way for rapid barrack creation in the future.
The Marines claim this is the first time this type of exercise has been performed; though similar printers have been used in the past to create buildings, it has never happened entirely at once and onsite. Marines were tasked with continually filling the printer with concrete and monitoring the printing process, which involved placing the concrete down as stacked layers.
The entire process took a bit less than two days, but it is possible the process could be reduced to a single day by using a robot for mixing and feeding the concrete. This is compared to the usual 5-day task of constructing a barracks hut using wood, a process that requires 10 Marines to complete versus the printer’s 4 Marines requirement.