[In Minnesota, contractor Andrey Rudenko is currently working on a project of gargantuan proportions that seems to be stretching and exploring the limits of 3D printing technology. Using a printer that was substantially modified and expanded, he has printed a concrete castle in his own backyard. And at 3 by 5 meters, this concrete structure is the world’s first 3D printed concrete castle, and one of the largest objects that has, up till now, ever printed with 3D printing technology.
The project and plans were written up at 3ders.org.
Contour crafting has been under development for several years but has not gotten to commercialized production of houses. There were ten houses built in China using 3D printing earlier this year. This project could soon bring 3Dhouse printing to the popular Maker movement and building contractors.
A project of this size obviously needs a printer of corresponding proportions, and Rudenko necessarily built his own machine. While he has received lots of very helpful feedback from the RepRap community, the actual construction was of his own design. This massive machine is driven by Arduino Mega 2560 board and software, which is not too different from some other 3D printers, but it requires special stepper drivers ‘For a big printer, Andrey needed special drivers that can handle the heavy weight of the machine as well as be compatible with the software/firmware. The best fit they found was from James Newton’s Mass Mind.
This printer is therefore slightly different than the one developed by Behrokh Khoshnevis at USC. ‘Design-wise, I’m creating a natural, free-layering of fine concrete and my goal is to have a nice-looking, natural texture, without the need for any additional finish, similar to rammed earth technology.’ Rudenko is also seeking to develop a portable machine that even smaller construction companies can afford. ‘The final price will be known once we build a few houses, but to the best of his knowledge, Andry Rudenko currently sees it as being priced at $30,000-50,000, though this will also vary depending on the parts and type of model.’
When that time comes, Rudenko hopes to be able to deliver a number of different kits that individual customers and small companies can put together themselves. ‘Obviously I can’t ship the whole machine, but I can ship an extruder, control box, some major parts, etc to help individuals put together their own version.’ Khoshnevis’s printer, on the other hand, at least appears to be heavier and larger, and Rudenko expects that only large-scale construction companies will be able to afford it.
Brian Wang is a Futurist Thought Leader and a popular Science blogger with 1 million readers per month. His blog Nextbigfuture.com is ranked #1 Science News Blog. It covers many disruptive technology and trends including Space, Robotics, Artificial Intelligence, Medicine, Anti-aging Biotechnology, and Nanotechnology.
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