U.S. Army Successfully Develops 3D-Printed Barracks

The U.S. Army’s Construction Engineering Research Laboratory has successfully printed a 3D cement barracks hut in Champaign, Illinois, according to a military press release.

CERL spent three years designing the B-Hut in its “Automated Construction of Expeditionary Structures” program, the press release said.

Dr. Michael Case, who serves as CERL ACSE program manager for the U.S. Army, said “ACES provides a capability to print custom designed expeditionary structures on-demand, in the field, using locally available materials. ACES will allow the Army to print buildings and other required infrastructure, such as barriers, culverts and obstacles on location.”

“The ACES team designed, built, and validated an additive, three-dimensional concrete printing technology that is a real game changer,” Case said, according to the military press release. “Unlike previous efforts, ACES can use up to 3/8″ aggregate in the concrete that is used. In addition, the ACES project paid particular attention to methods of reinforcing printed concrete, both horizontally and vertically.”

According to the military, the ACES program can potentially reduce the amount of building materials needed for barracks by half, and reduce the amount of manpower needed for construction by 62 percent, compared to plywood.

The industrial printer technology also enables the army to use locally-sourced concrete, according to 3D Print, which will reduce the amount of supplies needed to transport for building construction.

ACES is now seeking commercialization for the 3D printing technology with a North American industrial corporation, according to 3D Printing Industry.

The printing technology used for the B-Hut can also be used to print barriers, obstacles, culverts and other materials for army use.

CERL has partnered with NASA to identify methods to make the 3D printer more mobile. In addition, the military program has also teamed up with the space program to develop a concrete printer, set for release in September of this year.

The U.S. Marines are reportedly also considering an expeditionary fabrication laboratory that can print 3D in remote locations for on-demand crisis response, according to 3D Printing Industry. The 20×20 foot unit would contain four 3D printers, a 3D scanner and CAD software to design and produce content as needed.