Research into making building construction more efficient using 3 d printing is on going . Soon we would be able to print our buildings directly from our computers.
This technology is the latest in the field of construction.
Dr. Behrokh Khoshnevis of the University of Carlifornia is leading this research through a method called contour crafting.
In this method, a giant 3 d printer with a moveable flexible arm pours and moulds concrete from a pre mix concrete lorry along the contours of the building wall, slab , roof and other elements.
The moveable arm interweaves the concrete to form a firm wall structure.
Currently, concrete is the most widely used construction material.Ways and methods of making the concrete cheaper, such as creating fibre cement, can be utilised to reduce costs for bungalow type buildings that don’t require heavy structural walls.
The robotic arm of the 3d printer can be controlled to print exactly as drawn on the computer.
Currently, concrete prefab panel construction is made costly due to need for cranes to lift the heavy panels to the higher levels. With 3d printed buildings, there is no need for this since the pre mix lorry concrete pump will pump to the higher levels.
Watch this video here on how the technology works.
For Kenyan situation, much customisation will have to be done for this to be practical. Pre mix concrete lorries are already available here. The robotic printing arm design and programming will need to be undertaken by say, Numerical Machine Complex or any other private sector industry with a knack for innovative technology.
A person can aid the printer to ensure it works perfectly till the mechanisms are fine tuned to perfection.
Francis Gichuhi Kamau, Architect.