The variety of 3D printing materials available to makers and industries is constantly growing, with all types of non and recycled plastics, metals, and even building materials like concrete becoming more and more viable. Within the construction field, Australian company Fastbrick Robotics has come up with a less traditional 3D printing material with their innovative brick-laying robot. The robot, called the Hadrian 105 robot, is capable of laying bricks at a much faster pace than human bricklayers and functions similarly to a large-scale robotic 3D printer.
Fastbrick Robotics, a Perth based company, recently released a demonstration video of the Hadrian 105 robot at work, and the process is pretty amazing. Following a laser guide system, the robot arm rapidly and precisely builds the entire outer shell of a small house, laying about 225 bricks per hour. To compare, a human bricklayer lays about the same amount of bricks in half a work day.
If you think that’s impressive, however, the ASX listed company is also working on its next generation of the robot, the Hadrian X, capable of laying up to 1,000 bricks per hour, more than double what a human bricklayer could achieve in a day. As can be seen in the video demonstration, the robot lays bricks which are fed into it from a long boom (the Hadrian X will have an impressive 30 meter boom), and can place them within a 0.5mm accuracy range.
Mike Pivac, CEO of Fastbrick, said: “We are a frontier technology company, and we’re one step closer to bringing fully automated, end-to-end 3D printing brick construction into the mainstream. We’re very excited to be taking the world-first technology we proved with the Hadrian 105 demonstrator and manufacturing a state-of-the-art machine.”
While the robot is large, according to Fastbrick Robotics it has been designed to be transported and function from the back of a truck, making it easy to bring on to construction sites. The fully-automated brick laying 3D printer also works with an adhesive glue rather than traditional mortar to maximise the speed of the build and the strength and thermal efficiency of the finished structure, while at the same time minimising the impact of weather condition in the construction process. Similar to a regular 3D printer, the instructions for where the robot should lay the bricks are communicated from a CAD 3D model and machine code. It will also be able to handle different brick sizes, and will complete all of the cutting, grinding, milling and routing of the bricks prior to laying, so that the structure is ready for first fixing immediately after the machine moves offsite.
“Fastbrick’s add-on for the widely used SOLIDWORKS 3D CAD software, called The Architectural Designer, or TAD, is a powerful tool that drives the capabilities of the Hadrian X,” the company said.
“The accuracy achieved by the Hadrian X in building from a 3D CAD file will provide significant time and cost savings, by allowing other trades to manufacture components of the new structure in parallel with the bricklaying, rather than having to wait to measure the brickwork.”
The bricklaying market in the US, UK, Australia, and Canada is worth about $12 billion. Within the market, the brick 3D printer could offer companies a both faster and cost efficient way of laying brick structures. "Fastbrick Robotics aims to make improvements in the areas of speed, accuracy, safety and waste," explained the company. "We will pursue world-first efficiency solutions for the construction industry, and provide the technology for companies to improve their productivity and performance and deliver cost benefits to their customers."
Fastbrick Robotics said that Hadrian X, to be constructed by its specialist engineering team at the Perth workshop, has already attracted significant commercial interest from major construction companies and machine manufacturers across the world. The company is expecting to have their Hadrian X on the Australian market within about a year.