Additive manufacturing in architecture: robotic 3D-printed buildings

Stable, light and above all large: Industrial robots are 3D-printing architectural structures. It’s a production process like other manufacturing, only larger. Robots with enormous reach are now making highly-complex components that are changing architecture.


Additive manufacturing is the industrial-strength term for 3D printing. Robots today 3D print landing flaps, ship propellers, engine radiator tanks and artwork. And: 3D printers also help us build robots. Robotic arms even print entire architectural structures, and that’s a sight to behold.

3D printed buildings (on the moon?)

The Mediated Matter group at MIT has a mobile robotic 3D printer that’s capable of building habitats on the move. It’s a vehicle carrying two attached robotic arms, one for positioning and the second for precision printing. The long-term vision is “to have something totally autonomous, that you could send to the moon or Mars or Antarctica, and it would just go out and make these buildings for years,” says Steven Keating PhD, a mechanical engineering graduate and former research affiliate in the Mediated Matter group at the MIT Media Lab.

Architecture without limits

Branch Technology works with architects and designers to re-imagine the boundaries of construction. They have some truly amazing projects under their belt, including the Design Miami Pavilions shown at the top of this post. They’ve found innovative ways to build very strong structures by combining 3D-printed structures with traditional construction materials.

3D-Printed Concrete Bridges

Tsinghua University (School of Architecture) – Xu Weiguo is professor at the Zoina Land Joint Research Center for Digital Architecture. His team built the world’s largest concrete 3D printed pedestrian bridge, working jointly with the Shanghai Wisdom Bay Investment Management Company. The finished bridge is over 26 meters long. According to Tsinghua University, the bridge was built over 450 hours using two robots and cost less in the end than a similar, conventionally-built bridge.

Learn more about additive manufacturing with robots.

Copywriter, blogger and digital media marketing manager. I have managed digital development in both an online media start-up and a global corporation of 150,000 people.

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