Scientists from Nanyang Technological University, Singapore (NTU Singapore) have developed a technology where two robots can work in unison to 3D-print a concrete structure.
This method of concurrent 3D-printing, known as swarm printing, paves the way for a team of mobile robots to print even bigger structures in future. This new multi-robot technology was published in Automation in Construction, a top tier journal for civil engineering.
The NTU robots 3D-printed a concrete structure measuring 1.86 m × 0.46 m × 0.13 m in 8 min. It took two days to harden and one week for it to achieve its full strength before it was ready for installation.
Printing concrete structures concurrently with two mobile robots was a huge challenge, as both robots have to move into place and start printing their parts without colliding into each other.
This multi-step process starts by having the computer map out the design to be printed and assign a specific part of the printing to a robot. It then uses a special algorithm to ensure that each of robot arm will not collide with another during the concurrent printing.