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Robotic 3D printer builds UK's first fireproof house

Robotic 3D printer builds UK’s first fireproof house

Additive manufacturing, also known as 3D printing, is a versatile technique that can be used to create different objects from different materials. It is widely used in various industries such as engineering, architecture and medicine. From small machine parts to large structures such as bridges, this technology has proven to be reliable and efficient.

One of the emerging applications of 3D printing is in the construction sector, where it can provide quick and efficient solutions for building homes and other facilities.

RIC Technology’s robotic 3D printer will help build the nation’s first fireproof, site-manufactured concrete ADU in Walnut, California, in January 2024. Builtech Construction Group will manage the project from design to completion, and K4K Construction Design will be the responsible subcontractor for 3D printing.

There is a housing shortage in the United States, particularly in densely populated neighborhoods, and building accessory dwelling units (ADUs) is a cost-effective way to address this problem. However, using 3D printing to reconstruct old homes or build ADUs in crowded neighborhoods can be challenging. Traditional 3D printing methods aren’t suitable for ADUs because they require large, complicated machines that don’t fit in small backyards.

Representation of the walnut ADU. Photo credit: RIC Technology

“Our compact modular 3D robot printer overcomes these limitations and enables 3D construction in people’s backyards,” said Ziyou Xu, founder and CEO of RIC Technology. He continued: “This represents a milestone in the housing industry and expands the scope of concrete 3D printing in the construction of affordable housing.”

The walnut ADU will also be non-combustible and fire resistant to address California’s wildfire crisis. “3D printing is good for building fireproof houses because the concrete we use for printing is non-flammable,” Xu said.

Wildfires burned 4.2 million acres across California in 2020, costing over $1 billion in fire protection and causing 31 deaths, according to CalMatters. Philips and Constance, a couple from Walnut, wanted to support fireproof construction methods and agreed to help Builtech Construction Group build a fireproof ADU in their backyard. This 1200 square foot ADU will feature two bedrooms and 2.5 bathrooms.

The ADU’s exterior walls are 3D printed from concrete – a non-combustible material. Additionally, the roof will be made of steel and sure-boards, which sets it apart from other 3D printed houses that often feature wooden structural roofs. Additionally, Builtech will also reinforce areas of a home that are traditionally vulnerable to fire, such as: E.g. roof hatches and windows.

“The ADU is built without a single piece of wood or nail – no ‘fuel’ on the main structure,” said Aaron Liu, CEO of Builtech Construction Group and NFPA Certified Wildfire Management Specialist (CWMS). “In this way, we significantly minimize the likelihood of a fire entering the home, thereby increasing the safety of the structure.”