the mediated matter ground from MIT is setting out to revamp construction as we know it with their latest project—an autonomous rolling robot that prints out entire buildings. the machine has been used to successfully create the largest object ever to be 3D printed, opening the door to huge architectural printing possibilities.  the researchers behind the project claim that the new technology will be able to construct types of buildings that would simply not be feasible with traditional methods, in places that are difficult for humans to access.

 
MIT’s machine has created the largest 3D printed strucure to date
image courtesy of mediated matter, steven keating, julian leland, levi cai, prof. neri oxman

 

 

the machine—dubbed a ‘digital construction platform (DCP)—is kitted out with solar panels to generate its power, yet can also run on electricity. the researchers behind the project at mediated matter claim that the new technology will be able to construct types of buildings that would simply not be feasible with traditional methods. by making the machine autonomous, the idea is that eventually it could be sent off to natural disaster zones to construct emergency housing all on its own. the researchers even hope to be able to send the machine off into space, to start knocking together accommodation on the moon or even on mars.


the machine is equipped with solar panels for autonomous power
image courtesy of MIT

 

 

the robot consists of a tracked vehicle, which carries a large, industrial robotic arm with an additional precision-motion robotic arm on the end. this enabled the arm to be controlled to minute details, and makes for the possibility highly cutomizable results in the future. the robotic arm can be used to direct any conventional construction nozzle, whether it be to pour concrete or spray on insulation material.


the DCP took 14 hours to print to structure
image courtesy of mediated matter, steven keating, julian leland, levi cai, prof. neri oxman

 

 

the design elements that allows the machine to operate on such a large scale is not its size, but the fact that the robotic arc is free-moving—meaning that unlike conventional 3D printing-systems, the arm is not supported within a fixed structure. the free range of the machine made it possible to ‘print’ out the walls of a 50 ft wide, 12 ft high dome in just 14 hours. the machine can be used with a whole range of materials, and could be used to fabricate structures in a single build, with concrete walls that seamlessly fuse into glass windows.


the idea is for the machine to be used to print emergency housing in disaster zones
image courtesy of mediated matter, steven keating, julian leland, levi cai, prof. neri oxman

 

 

professor neri oxman, group director and associate professor of media arts and sciences explains her vision for the project to MIT news, detailing that ‘it’s not merely a printer but an entirely new way of thinking about making, that facilitates a paradigm shift in the area of digital fabrication, but also for architectural design. our system points to a future vision of digital construction that enables new possibilities on our planet and beyond.’


the machine can be used to build with many different materials
image courtesy of mediated matter, steven keating, julian leland, levi cai, prof. neri oxman


the robotic arm is fitted with any conventional construction nozzle
image courtesy of mediated matter, steven keating, julian leland, levi cai, prof. neri oxman


the whole building measures 50 ft wide by 12 ft high 
image courtesy of mediated matter, steven keating, julian leland, levi cai, prof. neri oxman


the machine represents a new future for digital construction on our planet and beyond
image courtesy of mediated matter, steven keating, julian leland, levi cai, prof. neri oxman


the domes could eventually be build in space
image courtesy of mediated matter, steven keating, julian leland, levi cai, prof. neri oxman

  • Where is the roof?? DOW chemical company did something like this back in the 1970s!

    michael jantzen says:
  • So…. it looks like you almost painted yourself into a coner—is that why there is no roof?

    Space?!

    I wish those of us who ‘live on the economy’ had the luxury of coming up with a program that would take us to retirement with benifits, never having to provide a tangible return to society …other than to themselves. Leave your 3-day weeks, cafeteria and A/C …head to Africa where actual people ‘need’ housing.

    Jim

    JimCan says:

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