Researcher use robot arm to print 3D sand structures

August 6, 2012 by Bob Yirka report

(Phys.org) -- Researchers from the Institute for Advanced Architecture of Catalonia have built a programmable robot arm with a nozzle for a hand that allows for building structures out of sand mixed with water and binding agents, using a 3D printing technique. The result, called the Stone Spray Robot, was built by architects Inder Shergill, Anna Kulik and Petr Novikov, and is a part of the Stone Spray Project, whose purpose is to illustrate the concept of making habitual structures from earth friendly materials.

The team from the autonomous north-eastern “community” of Spain, has set for themselves the mission of developing ways to build modern human abodes in ways that fit more naturally with the environment. Their robot arm builds structures by continuously spray painting material over and over again, building up as it goes, like an ink jet printer with thicker ink. Currently, it lacks the ability to construct the backbone of a building, but its designers believe with further research, new versions of their arm will be able to create livable structures from the simplest of ingredients. In the near term, such an arm could conceivably be used to build portable shelters for people in disaster areas, but long term is another matter. The team would like to see the elimination of hazardous building materials and a new focus on learning to cohabitate with nature, rather than destroying everything and then erecting sterile buildings out of materials created in a lab.

The structures that are produced currently have demonstrated they are capable of withstanding both wind and water, though thus far they are still quite tiny, more like works of art than buildings. On the other hand, the arm is powered solely by solar electricity.

To use the robot arm, the team first mixes the water and binding ingredients and holds them in a secondary storage unit that also holds sand that is poured in. Next the materials are gravity fed to the . The robot then uses compressed air to mix and spray the ingredients in patterns specified by instructions fed in from a laptop computer. The end product is a three dimensional rock-like sculpture.

Explore further: Warwick students take rescue robot to RoboCup Rescue Championship

Related Stories

Robot assembles truss structures autonomously

February 28, 2012

(PhysOrg.com) -- Like something straight out of "Star Wars," armies of robots could nimbly be crawling up towers and skyscrapers to make repairs in the not-so-distant future, so humans don't have to.

Robot arm at MIT will weave its own web (w/ Video)

April 29, 2012

(Phys.org) -- The Mediated Matter Group from the MIT Media Lab is working on a robot that might one day spin its own webs. Project team members are training a robot to weave a web-like architecture, similar to the way a ...

Recommended for you

Software turns smartphones into tools for medical research

July 27, 2015

Jody Kearns doesn't like to spend time obsessing about her Parkinson's disease. The 56-year-old dietitian from Syracuse, New York, had to give up bicycling because the disorder affected her balance. But she still works, drives ...

Where is solar power headed?

July 22, 2015

Most experts agree that to have a shot at curbing the worst impacts of climate change, we need to extricate our society from fossil fuels and ramp up our use of renewable energy.

6 comments

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

antialias_physorg
5 / 5 (1) Aug 06, 2012
I like it. Can we have that for our next day at the beach? I'll just get an STL-model of Lichtenstein castle...

There's already a few other 'print your house' ideas out there like this:
http://inhabitat....-robots/

And I do seem to remember someone using a staw and clay mixture to print houses.

3D printing is definitely the future (and square houses are the past)
seb
not rated yet Aug 06, 2012
One day a truck similar to a firetruck will pull up at an empty lot, it will extend it's arm thingy (which is in the place of the big ladder, of course) which will have several branching arms extensions, over the lot, and the arms will start flaying about in a blur, and an hour or two later some house will stand there..

hmm..
antialias_physorg
not rated yet Aug 06, 2012
Another cool low cost version I've seen is printing with paper
http://www.youtub...ZytWl88E
lbuz
not rated yet Aug 06, 2012
This is one way to convert regolith into functional construction materials,though another binder tech like laser sintering would be applicable in that case. Another step on the ladder to the asteroids and ......
rwinners
Aug 06, 2012
This comment has been removed by a moderator.
DarkHorse66
not rated yet Aug 07, 2012
Cute, but this one is better:
http://phys.org/n...rms.html
More practical than building sandcastles and is helping someone who really needs it. Cheers, DH66

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.