It has been two years since I first began toying with the idea of a 3D printer that was capable of constructing homes. In my vision of using 3D printers as new technology, I wanted a light, portable, and stable machine. First, I built a small 3D printer that used plastic for its main material, and from that, I started experimenting on enlarging the printer and using variations of cement mixes. Layering cement was an extremely difficult task- it required extensive tuning of the printer on a programming level, as well as using exact quantities for the cement mix. While testing the printer, I ran into obstacles (such as the nightmare of the extruder clogging) and discovered even further abilities of the printer, like that it can print much more than 50cm a day as I originally thought. I was able to calibrate the machine so that it prints nearly perfect layers now, and I played with various heights and widths of the cement layers. My current standard is 10 millimeters in height by 30 millimeters in width, but countless other options are available with just the click of a button.
This two year long journey has led me to build the world’s first 3D Concrete Printed Castle. Finally, it stands!
In desire to start the 3D printing of the castle model sooner, I relied on my own resources. When I started out, people struggled to believe this project would progress any further. However, I was lucky to get lots of invaluable input and support from individuals from the RepRap community. Specifically, I am eternally grateful to James Newton for his constant support with the drivers (http://www.massmind.org/Techref/io/stepper/THB6064/index.htm
). These drivers ended up being the only ones to work properly with Marlin Firmware (I sampled other drivers, which failed), and were powerful enough to move such a huge printer. Also, I am greatly thankful for Mikhail Tikh, a design engineer collaborating with me on the project and responsible for the 3D model of the castle. I’m also really grateful for all the help I received with manual labor on this project.
Right now, I am in the process of redesigning the printer based on the lessons learned. My biggest priority is ensuring that the upgraded printer will be ready for the new project. My goal will be to print 24 hours a day until the project is finished. I’m also planning to print the structure in one piece; printing the castle turrets by themselves was a bad idea as they were extremely difficult to lift and place. Additionally, I’ve figured out how to print a roof; the only thing is that the material I’d print with would have to be used in warmer climates for now.
The next project is a real full-scale livable house. The amount of correspondence I am getting proves high demand and interest in this new technology. I want to make sure that for the next project, I have the right team doing the job to fully use all of the benefits of the 3D printing machine. I am open to offers from individuals or companies interested in owning the first house of this type built with the newest 3D technology and ready to provide abundant funds to completely cover the project and all its expenses. The interested party needs to own the lot/site and possess a permit for a house built by 3D Printing technology. While the location for the next project will be selected based on many factors, I have decided that ideally it should be a region with warm, mild climate so that printing can start in the fall and continue during the winter season. Since the technology is ready, I’d like to start printing as soon as I have a real offer for this first 3D-Printed House. I’d also like to collaborate with the interested architects, designers, and software engineers experienced in 3D tools. Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org for any questions, suggestions, and offers.
Finally, our website is live (though still with lots of room for improvement); it will be a place to write updates on the 3D printing progress, as well as be a posting wall for new ideas and findings. I’ve included a page in which I outlined the artistic capabilities of the 3D printer to print design elements; some of the decorative elements worked very well during the castle printing. My hope is that designers and architects looking to create a new look for buildings will find this information useful. The new 3D technology allows us to implement completely new architectural ideas in construction and it is remarkable how we can vary the current architectural structures of homes. With this new technology, it is possible to print limitless amounts of classical décor as well as brand new elements and shapes, whereas previous technology made innovative constructions difficult and expensive.
A new era of architecture is inevitable, and I’m excited to see where the next few years will lead in terms of construction and design. I have previously been sure I could print homes, but having finished the castle, I now have proof that the technology is ready.