Disaster strikes, and thousands, tens of thousands, or even more people are left without houses to call their home. We see this over and over again, both in the developed and developing world, after hurricanes, tsunamis, tornadoes, earthquakes or floods ravage entire cities, communities or even countries. Shelter is a necessity of life, and in recovering from disasters, it, along with food, is one of the main resources that needs to be reestablished in the aftermath.
For researchers at the University of Nantes (IRCCyN) in France, this was a problem that they looked to solve, and in doing so they turned to 3D printing technology. With the help of engineers from a company called Capacites, they came up with a 3D printer that they call the INNOPrint 3D. This machine is capable of printing out extraordinarily large objects of 3 meters (9.84 feet) in all directions.
The ultimate goal for INNOPrint 3D is to create emergency housing in areas where disasters strike. In fact, it can 3D print buildings of this 3x3x3m volume, including all the walls and even the roof. These structures are completely printed, sealed and insulated in just 20-30 minutes flat; a timeframe almost unheard of for 3D printing enthusiasts.
“You have to imagine that, in a disaster, the robot will be shipped by boat together with raw material containers and the human relief,” explained Benoit Ferret of team MO2P / Robotics IRCCyN. “There, on demand, according to the desired size, in 20 to 30 minutes, an emergency housing can be realized and used for several months until a more permanent reconstruction can take place.”
That’s not all though. The team of researchers are also looking to expand upon this machine, to enable it to print out structures as large as they want. They are currently working on an iteration that will be able to 3D print structures of unlimited length and width (x & y axes), with a height of up to 7 meters (23 feet) tall (z axis), enabling the printing of entire houses and/or civil engineering buildings on site, all in a matter of a couple hours.
The INNOPrint 3D machine, as you can see in the photos and video provided below, uses a 4-foot long articulated arm to print at very rapid speeds. It should be interesting to follow the development of this project, as it could ultimately lead to much quicker recovery in the face of disaster, as well as future forms of construction within the developing world.
What do you think about the potential that INNOPrint 3D has? Discuss in the INNOPrint 3D forum thread on 3DPB.com. Check out the video below.