Happy new decade!
We begin our world tour in Mexico. Interesting Engineering reports the world’s first 3D printed community of houses is up and running. These 500-square-foot houses were built by a 33-foot-long 3D printer.
Long envisioned by not-for-profit New Story, this community is the next step in a plan to “find a solution for the 3 billion people who will be living without access to adequate shelter by 2050.”
New Story’s Co-Founder and CEO Brett Hagler expounds: “we feel like we’ve proved what’s possible by bringing this machine down to a rural area in Mexico, in a seismic zone, and successfully printing these first few houses.”
New Story “claims to research ‘breakthroughs in homebuilding.’ This is why it has partnered with Austin-based construction tech company Icon to develop a 3D printer capable of tackling even the most extreme conditions.”
“Icon’s printer, Vulcan II, is now helping print 50 Mexican homes. The new resulting neighborhood will be the first to use this technology at scale. The area where the homes are being printed has a high risk of earthquakes. Therefore, the new homes had to go through several engineering structural tests. However, the printer performed well when it came to creating the homes and better yet; it did so autonomously. Although minor adjustments to the blueprint could be made on site.”
Additionally, Vulcan II is able to print multiple houses simultaneously. These homes all “have two bedrooms, a living room, a kitchen, and a bath. New Story partnered with the local government to ensure the homes went to the 50 families most in need.”
As New Story’s other Co-Founder Alexandria Lafci explains: “for a majority of these families, this will be the first time they will have indoor restrooms, plumbing, and sanitation.”
Elsewhere, SciTechDaily reports on innovative new 3D printed lattice designs, developed by a team at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. These 3D printed lattice designs “are ultra-lightweight and ultra-stiff, despite breaking a rule previously thought to be required to exhibit such properties.”
The team described their findings in a paper published in a recent edition of the scientific journal Science Advances. The team, led by engineer Seth Watts, “used topology optimization software to create two unique unit cell designs composed of micro-architected trusses, one of which was designed to have isotropic (identical and omnidirectional) material properties. These new structures were then fabricated and tested, and were found to outperform the octet truss, a standard geometric pattern for 3D-printed lattice structures.”
“To the researchers’ surprise, the trusses appeared to violate the Maxwell criterion, a theory of structural rigidity used in mechanical design positing the most efficient load-bearing structures deform only by stretching. In such structures, stiffness scales linearly with density — cutting the structure’s weight in half only reduces its stiffness by half, as opposed to less efficient structures whose stiffness would be reduced by three-quarters or seven-eighths. This linear scaling enables the creation of ultra-lightweight, ultra-stiff mechanical metamaterials.”
As Watts continues: “we have found two trusses, which have linear scaling of stiffness with density when the conventional wisdom — this Maxwell criterion rule — is not satisfied. It had been believed the Maxwell criterion was both necessary and sufficient to show you had high stiffness at low density. We’ve shown this is not a necessary condition. In other words, there is a larger class of trusses which have this linear scaling property.”
Watts explains: “this experiment shows the previous orthodoxy is not firm. There are exceptions, and the exceptions can actually get you better properties.” In order to get to this point, the team used a projection micro-stereolithography 3D printing process.
As for the future?
Well, “Watts and his team are continuing their work to include a fuller characterization of the lattice structures, considering physics beyond linear elasticity, including heat transfer, nonlinear mechanics, vibration, and failure. Understanding their response across a range of phenomena results in more accurate design of multi-scale structures built using these new metamaterials.”
Finally, SyFy Wire reports on a new Great Wall of China, which has been 3D printed in the city of Suzhou. Suzhou, located in the eastern portion of the superpower, is a major city.
It is now even more major due to the fact it is home to one of the largest 3D printed structures in the world. This wall was developed by 3D printing firm WinSun. The wall, 1,640 feet in length, is a “river protection device.”
“This lengthy sloped river revetment wall, installed along the Shanghai-Jiangsu Port waterway, is meant to absorb and deflect the energy of strong water currents, thereby protecting the land from destructive shoreline erosion, soil contamination, and flooding. It also provides a stout barrier for sensitive ecosystems and habitats relied upon by numerous birds, fish, plants, grasses, and trees.”
WinSun, also known as WinSun Decoration Design Engineering, is based in Shanghai, and “has helped revolutionize the burgeoning 3D printing construction industry. This company’s 3D printer works by printing, layer by layer, large segments of buildings, especially wall panels, using a special ‘ink’ blended from a complex proprietary cocktail of fiberglass, steel, sand, cement, hardening agents, and recycled materials.”
As the firm points out, “by utilizing the cutting-edge invention, WinSun was able to trace the natural contour of the area’s Suzhou Creek, something which would have been incredibly cost-prohibitive with traditional methods.”
WinSun added: “our 3D printed great wall stands as a testament to the obvious cost-saving, durability, and ecological benefits of the flourishing additive manufacturing industry. 3D printing reduces the need for construction materials by an estimated 30-60%, saves 50-70% in total construction time, uses 50-80% less labor, and can be up to 50% cheaper.”
Tune in next month for even more 3D printing news!
Image Courtesy of Interesting Engineering
Quotes Courtesy of Interesting Engineering, SciTechDaily, and SyFy Wire