Architecture

U.S. Army barracks will be largest 3D-printed structure in the West

U.S. Army barracks will be lar...
The project will consist of three barracks, each of which will measure over 5,700 sq ft (roughly 530 sq m)
The project will consist of three barracks, each of which will measure over 5,700 sq ft (roughly 530 sq m)
View 2 Images
Construction work has already begun on the 3D-printed barracks
1/2
Construction work has already begun on the 3D-printed barracks
The project will consist of three barracks, each of which will measure over 5,700 sq ft (roughly 530 sq m)
2/2
The project will consist of three barracks, each of which will measure over 5,700 sq ft (roughly 530 sq m)

With its speed and efficiency, 3D printing architecture technology has huge potential for military use, both at home and overseas. The U.S. Army clearly recognizes this and plans to build three 3D-printed barracks that it says will be the largest 3D-printed structures in the Western Hemisphere.

The project will be located in Fort Bliss, Texas, and involves the Defense Innovation Unit (DIU), the U.S. Army Installation Management Command (IMCOM), and the U.S. Army Engineer Research and Development Center (ERDC). It's being built using Icon's Vulcan 3D printer, which is the industry leader at the moment and is being used for everything from housing to NASA bases. The design is handled by Logan Architecture, which was also the architect for Icon's recent 3D-printed House Zero.

Each of the three barracks will measure over 5,700 sq ft (roughly 530 sq m), making each one the joint largest 3D-printed structure in the Western Hemisphere, according to the DIU – to put that size into perspective, one of the largest structure in the world to date is a Dubai administrative building measuring 640 sq m (roughly 6,900 sq ft).

Construction work has already begun on the 3D-printed barracks
Construction work has already begun on the 3D-printed barracks

Once complete, they will host 72 soldiers per barracks. The printing process will be much like previous 3D-printed projects we've covered and will involve the Vulcan 3D printer extruding Icon's cement-like proprietary mixture Lavacrete out of a nozzle at up to 5-10 linear inches (12-25 cm) per second in layers to build the basic structure of the building. Human builders will then finish it off with doors, a roof, windows, wiring, and anything else required.

The project is another indication that the U.S. Military is getting serious about 3D-printed architecture and follows a previous 3D-printed barracks by the U.S. Marines.

"This project supports all three Army priorities: people, readiness and modernization," said Lt. Gen. Doug Gabram, Commanding General of United States Army Installation Management Command. "Constructing facilities using this cutting-edge technology saves labor costs, reduces planning time and increases the speed of construction of future facilities. We are looking at other ways to use this innovative technique for rapid construction of other types of facilities beyond barracks."

We've no word yet on when the barracks is expected to be completed, but construction is already underway.

Sources: Icon, DIU

5 comments
5 comments
Jinpa
Aren't 3D structures made of plastic? If this one will be, any fire or other thermal source could melt the thing. The technique might save some labor costs, where is the analysis about getting the materials to the site being any more costly than getting standard material there? The part about savings from standard plans is bogus, since any design to be replicated also is standardized. This looks like somebody's pet project, maybe tied to another expensive contractor. The Army should use enlistees, not contractors, to build standard structures, to keep the standing army busy. The outrageous costs and shoddy work of war-profiteering contractors in Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere shows the folly of contracting out large chunks of work on military bases.
Douglas Rogers
It needs to do floors and roofs to really be called 3D printing.
Intellcity
@Jinpa Process uses Lavacrete , a concrete like material. Other concrete buildings have been 3D printed. 3D printing saves on expensive construction labor. Other pre-fab components can be added to the process as it is being built. Even the roof can be built on the ground and set in place with a crane. I am not sure they are going all in with all the time and labor savings opportunities yet.
unusualsuspect
It's a start.
I don't know the capabilities of these machines, but if they could use material like those that make adobe bricks, that could cut costs way down.
Lots of sand, and clay everywhere. Just add water, and repeat.
christopher
Lucky it is for soldiers - no pesky safety regulations to adhere to, like building collapse from lack of reinforcement...