Though 3D printing technology is still relatively new, it may become an important tool for architects and the construction industry, as highlighted by projects like the recent 3D-printing of 10 homes in a day. The latest example of this progress comes via US-based Andrey Rudenko, who has created a small concrete "castle" structure in his backyard using a large 3D printer he built himself. Next up, he's making a house.

From small beginnings ...

The 3D-printed castle is 2 years in the making, and began with Rudenko first fabricating a small 3D printer which printed using plastic. It took some time before he scaled-up to a much larger unit that could print in concrete reliably, but once Rudenko had solved issues like clogging, he was good to go.

"In short, the printer is a 3D concrete-extruding machine which pushes/extrudes and layers concrete in very fine, high-quality layers of almost any size and configuration," explains Rudenko. "The machine is controlled by computer using the Arduino Mega 2560 micro-controller board; it prints directly from CAD files using a chain of software tools to control printing."

The castle took a total of 2 months to print from start to finish. The 3D printer pushed out strips of 10 x 30 mm (0.4 x 1.1 in) concrete, which were then layered atop each other. However, with a printing rate of 50 cm (19.6 in) per 8 hours, it could have been built much quicker had Rudenko not taken his time tweaking the printer's settings, testing its abilities, and ensuring that the quality was good.

The main body of the castle, which measures 3 x 5 m (10 x 16 ft) and 3.5 m (12 ft) high, was printed as one unit, while the turrets were then printed separately. Looking to the future

Rudenko's next project is to create a 3D-printed two-story home, which he told us he plans on printing in one piece, including the fireplace, kitchen island, and foundation for the staircase, plus columns, interior walls, and more.

"The next project is a real full-scale house. The size of the house will be defined with architects, but the printer should be able to print 10 x 20 m (32 x 65 ft), or more if the rails are extended," explains Rudenko. "I presume that with the rails extended, I could print up to 50-100 m (164 - 328 ft) long, but I have to experiment to prove it. The first house is going to be an experimental house.

"Hopefully, architects will come up with the some unique design for the house. The printer gives high quality layers that enhance the look of any building, so I am sure people will like it. The main issue is to get a permit for non-traditional method of construction. Ideally, I’d like to team with architects who take care of the construction project’s essentials, general contractor and project’s sponsor. Then, my focus will be on delivering high quality 3D printing of the house’s walls.

"The more important advances of this technology lie in its architectural possibilities and energy-efficiency. Architects have waited many years for this technology, and now that it's here, this opens up a whole window of possibilities; soon, we will see new kinds of architecture used to construct new structures."

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