3D printed building promises to cut down labour force

The 3D printed building near the Civil engineering department of IIT-M | SRUTHI V

Sruthi V

Chennai, Feb 27: The Civil Engineering department of the Indian Institute of Technology-Madras (IIT-M) has constructed India’s first 3D printed building. The researchers aim at reducing the labour and cost of construction when compared to the conventional methods.

In conventional construction methods, a huge number of labour power is involved. This process is time consuming as it depends on the working efficiency of each worker.

In 3D printed construction, the machine plays the major role. Lesser labour power is involved for the entire process.

Rahul AV, a research scholar at IIT-M who works on this project said “In 3D printing you have to invest on the printer and the raw materials to be used. Lesser labour strength is involved. As our research work is still on, we are using special materials which are available in the market. Our aim is to use raw materials that are lesser expensive.”

The research work is done in collaboration with several companies and hence the materials used and the cost involved in the construction are not revealed and is kept confidential.

“Compared to conventional building it would perform better as it helps in constructing mass number of houses in a less time,” Rahul said.

In 3D printing, concrete is made in layers. The idea is to understand the early age behaviour of concrete or how the concrete behaves in the fresh State. For example, consistency like that of toothpaste, which is a fluid, when pushed out of the tube, does not flow out like a fluid unless a certain level of stress is applied. In 3D printing, we create that stress level at which the concrete starts to flow. The concretes are aligned in layers. The addition of layers prevents the concrete from flowing. This concrete is much stiffer and can withstand more stress.

Rahul said “We make a CADD (Computer-aided design and drafting) drawing of the structure and then using it a 3D drawing of the element is to be printed. The 3D drawing is uploaded into the computer. The computer will generate G-codes.”

G-codes are a set of instructions generated by the software that dictates how and when the printer should move during construction.

The advantage of the 3D printed building is that there are no human interactions and the amount of labour required is less.

“Most important advantage is the shape freedom. In conventional constructions we usually see rectangular shapes because the mould is easy to cast. Here we don’t require a mould work and any shape can be formed using the printer. Architecturally pleasing and unique structures can be made using this technology,” he added.

The other advantage of 3D printing is shorter time period of construction. In normal scenario several steps are involved. But in this case, the printing can be started instantly.

 “Compared to conventional building it would perform better as it helps in constructing mass number of houses in a less time,” Rahul said.