Introducing Omnidirectional 3D Printing

Additive Outside the box

Petricor’s ‘Open House’ project is about developing a series of autonomous robotic devices that are capable of building structures based off architectural designs. The initial proposed concepts will create buildings through the use of additive manufacturing using novel methods and materials for construction.

 

The OmniDidact version of Open House is an Open Source 3D printer, that can be built with materials and parts that are readily available in most parts of the world,  to begin adopting and testing these new methodologies and to begin printing outside the box.  

The ability to print large objects without size restriction it is a most appealing characteristic and is widened by the plethora of currently available materials which can be used to 3D print objects that were not possible before, due to the inherent limitations of the 3D printers adopted by the market to this date.

In 2018, there will be 1.6 billion people without adequate housing and the average cost of building a home in the United States is approximately $300,000. We feel that we can help reduce both of these numbers in the future with the Open House project.

Others have tried to automate the construction process with some success, and using 3D printing as an aid, has shown remarkable promise.  However, it has been known that simply enlarging the design of a conventional gantry 3D printer is not feasible because, moving the machine onsite will be unwieldy. Not to mention the huge barrier to entry in terms on equipment costs.

 Current technologies create the walls and then transport them to the construction site and then are assembled, which is also not very cost effective and still requires a lot of human labor and heavy equipment to setup.

Petricor plans to enable a construction army by making the Open House printers available to individuals and businesses who would use and help improve the technology to eventually print homes for those who are without adequate housing, and help revitalize & beautify the current built environment, or to simply hack them for research & development of new tools, materials and methods.

THE GANTRY DILEMMA

Additive manufacturing is typically performed by attaching one or more extruders to a three degree of freedom gantry system that either moves the extruder or the platform where the object is being created. The entire system is typically housed in a frame which dictates the maximum size of the object created. However, the proposed Open House technology concept is significantly different than the typical additive manufacturing process.

 

After the concept methodology has been established and adopted within the community, the planned future versions proposed will expand to many unforeseen and even unintended use-cases, this is due to the nature of the flexible hardware setup which differs in three ways from conventional 3D printing technology.
Prototype, early mockup - Future concept

Second, the robotic arm is attached to a telescoping lift that regulates the vertical and horizontal extension. Allowing for wider parts to be printed in a single pass, and to provide the vertical lift when needed.

Third, the lift is then attached to an omnidirectional mobile platform capable of changing directions in an instant, retaining the main functionality and manufacturing capabilities of a 3D printer.

Robot rotations

The Omnididact

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Omnididact

The initial proposed working prototype is a simplified machine which purpose initially, is to create basic geometries and begin testing material recipe properties & geometries in lab environments.

Using different 3D printing logistics and employing conventional methodologies, The Omnididact consists of an octagonal omnidirectional mobile platform with a mechanical paste extruder attachment and/or a pellet plastic extruder, retaining the option to install conventional extruders for a variety of different materials, it boasts a z-axis max reach of 12” and a maximum part radius with solid infill of ~24”

This platform is designed with some limitations, but making it accessible is Important due to the possible entrepreneurial use the community can benefit from, this will enable more users with the resources needed to learn the technology and commit to use it for business and manufacturing purposes.

 

While several companies are currently working on the additive manufacturing of concrete, Petricor is also researching other avenues. They know that innovation doesn’t have to be a new product, they can improve on something that is currently available. 

To do that, they need to establish baseline performance data to assess how currently available materials will perform and how cost-effective they will be.

 

  This research is important because if successful, the transformative impact would lead to novel 3D printing techniques and ultra-rapid construction times.

 

The goal of this effort is to begin introducing these new paradigms to the current additive manufacturing community as an affordable piece of equipment that is modular and that can be repurposed or upgraded. Tapping into the community’s resources and ideas is vital to accelerate the Open House adoption and increase its technological reach. 

 

The investigation of robot swarm techniques for collaborative 3D printing is an exciting emergent field eager to be explored.

 

Test environment is currently being tested with custom software, web server & hardware.  

 

The materials currently being investigated for this use case are: Clays, cements, pastes, resins, polymers and recycled materials, such as cardboard, metal, glass, paper, plastic and biological materials like bacteria, plants or fungus. A secondary task is to further develop these materials and create standard recipes that can be used with this technology for different purposes, building techniques, and for the different climates of the world. 

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