The U.S. Marines made history this month by producing concrete barracks using a 3D printer. The entire process was completed in just 40 hours and comes as a major improvements compared to the traditional canvases and nylon tents that are used. The barracks can even resist enemy fire, providing much needed protection for the Corps. Prior to this groundbreaking feat, it took 10 Marines about 5 day to build a barrack out of wood. In addition to the inefficiency of the construction time, the process also put marines at an unnecessary risk of injury.
According to the Marine Corps Systems Command’s Operations and Programs Additive Manufacturing project officer Captain Matthew Friedel, “This exercise had never been done before, people have printed buildings and large structures, but they haven’t done it onsite and all at once. This is the first-in-the-world, onsite continuous concrete print. In active or simulated combat environments, we don’t want Marines out there swinging hammers and holding plywood up,” he continued. “Having a concrete printer that can make buildings on demand is a huge advantage for Marines operating down range.”
The structure, which was printed on the world’s largest concrete 3D printer at the U.S. Army Engineer Research and Development Center in Champaign, Illinois, is a 500 square foot structure. Using this printer, computer aided design (CAD) files and a decade old computer, they produced the barracks in less than 2 days. The team of Marines believe this process can soon become fully automated, as the task of preparing the concrete and refilling the printer with it could easily be done using artificial intelligence like robots. They are confident that once the process does become fully automated, that the production time will decrease to as little as 24 hours.