One of the revolutionary features of this digital age has been the emergence of 3D printing or additive manufacturing.
What is it?
“3D printing is any of (the) various processes in which material is joined or solidified under computer control to create a three-dimensional object, with material being added together (such as liquid molecules or powder grains being fused together),” reads this Wikipedia description.
Although this technology has made its presence felt in different fields including aerospace, medicine and automobiles, it is in architecture that a significant use of 3D printing has been found.
To make the construction of houses quicker and cheaper, students and faculty members at IIT-Madras have come up with India’s first 3D printing construction technology, which they believe can build a house of 350 square feet in less than a week, at a cost cheaper than conventional methods.
“Usually, a concrete layer will take minimum 28 days to 30 days for curing. But, in our innovative technology, the concrete will set in 3-5 hours,” Vidyashankar C told Deccan Chronicle.
Vidyashankar is a co-founder of Tvasta Manufacturing Solutions, a start-up which has developed this technology, alongside the Civil Engineering Department of IIT-Madras.
Automation and computerisation of construction and development would not merely entail greater efficiency and precision, but better safety standards as well, they believe. This piece of technology also entails quicker completion with fewer resources deployed or wasted.
“After constructing the house on the computer using 3D modelling, if we feed it to the printer then, the delivery system will bring out the component through the printer. The component either could be a house or a part of the house,” adds Vidyashankar.
One can construct objects of all shapes and sizes made of concrete. Depending on the designs uploaded to a computer, the printer will develop and mould that form in concrete.
“3D printing of concrete gives (a) new dimension to construction. This technology can best the complex demands of modern architecture with concrete,” said Professor Manu Santhanam of the civil engineering department (IIT-Madras), while speaking to the publication.
As per an official press release issued by Tvasta Manufacturing Solutions, the start-up aims to automate the process of construction, including the placement of reinforcements, which will reduce our dependency on manual labour. It further seeks to construct India’s first 3D printed house by next year with the subsequent focus on assisting the government in its ‘Housing for All’ scheme.
For the time being, this joint initiative has managed to construct a prototype 10X10-metre 3D printer. Utilising greater R&D and more testing, it is in the process of building a bigger one, which will allow them to construct a conventional house in less than a month.
(Edited by Shruti Singhal)