Researcher use robot arm to print 3D sand structures

August 6, 2012 by Bob Yirka report

( -- 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.

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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:

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)
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..

not rated yet Aug 06, 2012
Another cool low cost version I've seen is printing with paper
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 ......
Aug 06, 2012
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not rated yet Aug 07, 2012
Cute, but this one is better:
More practical than building sandcastles and is helping someone who really needs it. Cheers, DH66

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