In an article published in the magazine Nature, British and Swiss researchers have created a mini swarm of drones capable of printing 3D structures. They were inspired by the way bees or wasps cooperate to build their nest.
drones operate autonomously and coordinated, with a human supervisor who intervenes only in the event of a problem. Some are equipped with a print head, while others are equipped with sensors to assess the accuracy of the print and ensure that the different layers are perfectly aligned. The print head can also be adjusted to compensate for movement of the buzzwhich allows reaching a precision of the order of five millimeters.
See how drones print structures in 3D. Video in English, activate automatic translation of subtitles. © Nature
Print buildings without scaffolding or giant structures
Researchers have created several cement-based materials suitable for 3d print. The drones managed to print a first cylinder, based on a mixture of viscous cement, 18 centimeters high and made up of 28 layers, as well as a second cylinder 2.05 meters high, made up of 72 layers of insulating foam. They also equipped the drones with light to simulate lapse of time building a much larger structure.
This technique could eventually be used to build or repair buildings. With current methods 3D printing of buildings, the printer must be larger than the structure produced. With drones, there are no limits. In particular, they could be used for construction sites that are difficult to access, such as in the mountains, or even to rebuild the top of a tower without the need for scaffolding.
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