As 3D printing just continues to gain traction around the world—contributing enormous benefits and innovation to a wide range of industries—India has been embracing the technology and making strides with many different applications. Now, faculty and alumni at the Indian Institute of Technology Madras have developed a new program for 3D printed construction technology and have fabricated their first building.
Meant to act as a start-up for a ‘re-envisioned construction process,’ the academic team is currently developing a 3D printing process that will allow them to create 320-foot, one-story homes within three days each. They are working from a progressive prototype that has already been created at the Institute, offering a concept that allows them to use all the benefits of 3D printing to fulfill the demands for housing in India. Affordability is a huge factor, along with speed in production time, less need for construction labor, and less challenge in transporting more expensive, and dense, materials.
“Building Technology and Construction Management Division at IIT Madras is a unique Research Group in the country which has the expertise in materials as well as construction technologies which is relevant to this effort,” said Prof. Koshy Varghese, Department of Civil Engineering, IIT Madras.
“We have been working on developing 3D printing technology in the area of Construction from 2016 and have conducted International Workshops and awareness sessions for this in Chennai. In addition, the institute is exploring automated construction methods and novel formwork systems for rapid housing construction.”
Along with this current startup, IIT Madras is working with other government divisions to encourage education about—and the use of—technologies like 3D printing.
“3D printing of concrete gives a new dimension to construction. This technology can best meet the complex demands of modern architecture with concrete. The use of a combination of binders and optimally proportioned and sized aggregates, along with suitable chemical additives, the concrete mixture is fine tuned to achieve the rheological characteristics that make it possible for extrusion of the material and shape retention after placement,” said Prof Manu Santhanam, Department of Civil Engineering, IIT Madras.
The government realizes the need for innovation in construction processes as housing issues become further pressing:
“It is very heartening to see that institutions like IIT Madras and new startups such as Tvasta building technologies like 3D printing for construction sector in India from the ground up under the ‘Make in India’ platform,” said Kranthi Valluru, Assistant Secretary, MoH UA. “Such technologies help in expediting construction with optimal use of resources. They help in bringing a paradigm shift in construction sector which is very much the need of the hour.”
Aside from prototypes, it is expected that Tvasta will produce the first 3D printed homes within a year.
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