Tag Archives: 3D-Printed Structure

UC Berkeley 3D prints an entire 9-foot-tall pavilion

Researchers have just 3D-printed the first and largest powder-based cement structure.

team of researchers from UC Berkeley’s College of Environmental Design has unveiled what they’re calling the “first and largest powdered cement-based, 3D-printed structure.” 


To be clear, this isn’t the first 3D-printed building. If you recall, a Chinese company recently constructed 10 homes in less than day and finished an entire apartment block back in January using 3D-printed parts. Aside from that, a Dutch design firm has already devised a canal house in Amsterdam, a New York architect planned an entire estate and a Minnesota Maker created a castle all through additive manufacturing. However, what sets this project apart is that it was constructed using dry powdered cement, whereas its predecessors were made by extruding wet cement through a nozzle.

The pavilion, which goes by the name Bloom, is 9′ tall, 12′ wide and 12′ deep, and dons a traditional Thai floral motif design on its exterior to allow for natural light to shine through its interior in daylight and glow like a luminary at night. It is composed of 840 custom-printed blocks, each comprised of an iron oxide-free Portland cement polymer, and fabricated using 11 3D Systems printers.


“This project is the genesis of a realistic, marketable process with the potential to transform the way we think about building a structure,” explained Ronald Rael, Associate Professor of Architecture at UC Berkeley.

What really sets this unique system apart from existing methods of extrusion is that, by using an iron oxide-free Portland cement polymer formulation, Bloom is able to overcome many of the previous limitations to 3D-printed architecture. These constraints include the speed and cost of production, as well as aesthetics and practical applications.

Undoubtedly, 3D printing has transcended well beyond just mere plastic figurines, with today’s advanced printers — many of which powered by Atmel | SMART and AVR microcontrollers — capable of producing everything from functional tools in space to automobiles to entire buildings. After its official unveiling, the Bloom Pavilion was disassembled and shipped to Siam Research and Innovation in Thailand, where it will be exhibited for a few months before touring the world. Those wishing to learn more can head over to the project’s official page here.

These robots can 3D print an entire structure

A team of Makers from the Institute for Advanced Architecture of Catalonia (IAAC) has developed a set of experimental robots capable of building clay structures in their attempt to overcome existing limitations of 3D printing in large-scale. The creation — appropriately named Minibuilders — is a new breed of pint-sized mechanisms that could very well 3D print a house or another structure of serious magnitude.


As the group notes, “There has always been a close relationship between architecture and technology. Yet, in recent times, architecture has stagnated and the construction industry has been slow to adopt technologies that are already well established in other fields. Robotics and additive manufacturing offer great potential towards innovation within the construction industry.”


The objective of the project was to create a family of small-scale, mobile construction bots proficient in constructing objects far larger than the robots themselves. Moreover, each of the robots were specifically design to perform a diverse task, linked to the various phases of construction, all coming together as a family towards the implementation of a single structural outcome. As a result, the team decided to use a number of much smaller robots working in unison, rather than a single, much larger machine.


The “family” is comprised of various bots: Foundation Robots, Grip Robots and Vacuum Robots. The Foundation Robot is responsible for laying down the first 20 layers of material used to create a foundation footprint. Powered by an [Atmel based] Arduino board, the robot is able to steer along a predefined path with the help of mounted sensors that recognize curves along the ground. These small robots are connected with pipes to the supplier robot, that feeds the printing material.


To create the main shell of the final structure, the Grip Robot attaches to the recently-constructed foundation footprint. The robot’s four rollers clamp to the upper edge of the structure, therefore enabling it to move along the previously printed material and extrude more layers. Besides a rotational actuator, each roller is connected to a steering actuator that allows the robot to position precisely over the structure. Controlled by custom software, the robot follows a predefined path, all while still capable of adjusting its path to correct errors within the printing process.

To reinforce the shell printed by the first two robots, the third member of the family, the Vacuum Robot, affixes to the surface by using a vacuum generator and a suction cup. The vacuum concealed inside holds the robot on the surface, while allowing it to still move around freely. The robot moves and steers itself with two tracks. According to its creators, these bots can travel over surfaces of any inclination.