A new kind of volumetric 3D printing could eventually come to replace additive manufacturing completely, while the Autonomous Robotic Construction system is poised to revolutionize the entire construction industry
Holographic i.e. volumetric 3D printing first burst on to the scene last year but has since remained relatively obscure in stark contrast to it’s incredible potential
Just last week, CELLINK an industry leader in bioprinting announced their extremely expensive, $1.2 million dollar holographic bioprinter called “the Holograph-X”. You heard that right – a 3D printer that formulates organic tissue from holograms.
Holographic 3D printing was initially inspired by medical imaging technology, where X-rays are shot through a patients body at different angles to obtain various cross sectional images. Using computerized tomography a 3 dimensional interpretation is re-constructed from that 2 dimensional data. However, with holographic 3D printing it’s the other way around.
Instead you have cross sectional images of an object that serve as a directional blueprint for beams of light to intersect at different coordinates, creating what is called an interference pattern – a 3 dimensional hologram of light inside of a liquid photopolymer that eventually hardens to form the desired shape.
Researchers believe that the new method is key to printing complex organic structures, as it would allow for more detailed vascularity and formation of multiple tissues. Scientists have already printed blood vessel tissue, however it wasn’t that sophisticated. Additionally Russia just announced that they successfully bioprinted the very first fully formed organ in outer space – a mouse thyroid gland. Who knows what they’d be capable of with a system like Holographic-X. Perhaps scientists and engineers could make the shift from animal to human trials.
Aside from that, they suggest it could also enable speedy construction of very complex multi-material objects.
3D printer manufacturing and service company S-Squared 3D Printers (SQ3D) filed a patent for what they call the “Autonomous Robotic Construction System.” According to the patent, their new machine can efficiently construct homes, roads, bridges, and commercial buildings faster, cheaper, safer and with less environmental disruptions.
The company quotes impressive figures, stating that their ARCS system can reduce both the amount of time and cost by up to 70%.
“Our mission is to revolutionize the construction industry forever. This kind of outside-the-box thinking and solutions will reduce environmental impact, cut overhead costs, save lives and prevent injuries.”
The ARCS system is similar in function to the older WASP 3D printer currently set to begin construction of the Shamballa eco-village. With that being said, WASP seems more intent on providing affordable housing, and a minimal lifestyle whereas ARCS seems interested in full scale commercial operations. Irregardless, the two companies share the similar goal of revolutionizing construction.
To set up the robotic system takes only 6 hours. Apparently it is capable of printing cement structures that range from 500 square feet to over 1 million. The company claims that each structure will be also fire and mold resistant, built to withstand changing weather, and boasts structural integrity that should last up to a whole century with little maintenance
Since 3D printing utilizes powder or liquid filament extruded from a printing arm, the amount of staff and logistical transport to operate the device is negligible in comparison to a full fledged construction project. So with that being said architectural 3D printing is uniquely suited for building homes and infrastructure around more rural terrain. This of course, only grows more relevant the further you get from industrialized areas – where most people and construction supplies are located.
Therefor the concept does hold some great promise for improving remote parts of the world that have begun to decay since the 21st century. Furthermore, developing nations may end up diving headfirst in to the new technology, in order to “leap-frog” and get a head-start over less risk prone developed nations.
The technology will probably start by helping remote communities. However, if history were to save as an example, eventually construction companies will begin to reduce wages and lay off their workers in favor of 3D printing. That of course will trigger union protests.. which will probably just lead to more replacement. Ultimately, if corporations don’t provide opportunity to re-educate, construction workers will have to turn to the government for legal or financial aid.