There have been multiple attempts to develop a feasible method of 3D printing buildings, and Branch Technology is trying another method.

The first concepts for 3D printed buildings involved scaling up the small 3D printers we use for printing in plastic. Try to imagine a gigantic cartesian robot with a concrete extruder swinging rapidly to and fro as it raster-forms a building.

This approach never seemed to get off the ground, as the simple scaling of the desktop technology wasn’t appropriate.

Another approach involved scaling up the powder printing approach, where binder was injected into layers of sand. Originally intended to create structures, the approach proved useful for 3D printing artificial coral reefs.

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Yet another approach was to 3D print small construction components in a factory and then ship them to the job site. One key problem with this is weight: shipping (and installing) large pieces of 3D printed concrete is challenging, thus limiting the solution.

Another variation of the factory approach involved 3D printing apparently standard construction components from waste material. However, the results, though technically 3D printed, differed little from a structure made by any conventional construction techniques.

Some folks in the Philippines have developed a method of 3D printing temporary moulds for walls, into which they pour conventional concrete. This method seems to work for them, but only due to the labor constraints of that area.

Now Branch Technology is trying something different, which just might work. They’re taking a cue from Bioprinting, in which a scaffold is 3D printed into which the important living cells are attached – the “meat” of the work, so to speak.

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Fabbaloo tracks developments in the amazing technology of 3D Printing, publishing news and analysis daily. Whether from a manufacturer’s press release, onsite coverage of events or just some crazy ideas we thought up, our material will keep you up to date.

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