If you've played StarCraft or any similar game, you've probably wondered how your units were able to build bases so fast. Well, those Terran SCVs were probably 3D printers, most likely similar to one that MIT recently previewed.
Though not the first to 3D print a house, MIT's Digital Construction Platform (DCP) is not your ordinary 3D printer. For starters, it's a fully customizable, free-moving system that can 3D print an object of any size. Plus, the plan is to make the DCP a self-sufficient construction tool, capable of making individualized buildings designed using onsite environmental data.
In short, the DCP is an autonomous robotic system that can work in any environment using whatever materials nature can provide it with. The goal is, according to Steven Keating, “in the future, 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.”
In a proof of concept run, published in the journal Science Robotics, the DCP was able to use a combination of foam and concrete to construct a 3.7-meter-high (12 ft) dome in just 14 hours.
“So to me it’s not merely a printer,” said Neri Oxman, “but an entirely new way of thinking about making, that facilitates a paradigm shift in the area of digital fabrication, but also for architectural design. … Our system points to a future vision of digital construction that enables new possibilities on our planet and beyond.”