Jan 11, 2019 | By Thomas
Researchers at the U.S. Army Engineer Research and Development Center (ERDC), led by mechanical engineer Megan Kreiger, recently 3D printed a 32-ft-long reinforced concrete footbridge at Camp Pendleton in Southern California. Kreiger’s goal is to 3D print a modern-day version of a Bailey bridge. “It would be phenomenal if we could make a bridge that could support a tank,” she says.
3D printing the footbridge wasn’t easy. When she first arrived, it rained so much there were mud slides. “It’s hard to print in torrential downpours,” she says. “It was crazy.”
And the bridge, her latest research project was successfully printed. The footbridge pilot project wasn’t the first successful large-scale 3D printing project that Kreiger has involved. Last year the team completed the 3D printing of 9.5-ft-tall reinforced concrete walls for a 32-ft x 16-ft barracks on site at an army base, in less than two days. The team designed a 3D model on a 10-year-old computer. Once they hit print, the concrete was pushed through the print head and layered repeatedly to build the barracks room walls.
Kreiger became aware of 3D printing at Michigan Technological University, where she ran the 3D printing lab during her graduate studies in material science and engineering. She joined the US Army Engineer Research and Development Center in 2015.
ERDC also plans to use 3D concrete printers in humanitarian aid and disaster relief missions. As the first military services on site in natural disasters, ERDC is great at providing food and water, but struggle to provide shelter. In many locations, cement is easier to acquire than wood, and the army could quickly print houses, schools and community buildings to replace those destroyed. Kreiger sees huge implications for the limited labor required to create custom concrete structures without formwork.
“My goal is to establish additive construction as a viable method and introduce the benefits of large-scale 3D printing to military and commercial construction,” says Kreiger. “I want to push forward and test the limits of the construction industry” through 3D printing.
Images credit: ERDC
Posted in 3D Printing Application
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