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You'll have seen concrete pouring trucks of the kind that have the large boom arm attached so that they can direct concrete to an area further than the truck can reach (as opposed to the trucks which just up-end and dump it straight on the ground.)
Now imagine that boom arm with a motor attached rather
than being manually guided, and the motor driven by a computer.
We now have a large scale 3D printer for concrete.
Now, you probably would not be able to just pour a house with solid walls and not expect it to all glug down to the floor, but you *might* be able to robotically put some shielding in place that would form a wall cavity which you then filled with concrete. Or you could put up a dummy building in polystyrene, surround it with a different kind of foam (such as the kind you mix two liquids to create, as is used to make custom seats for race-car drivers), then melt off the polystrene version leaving a cavity to be filled.
Or you could pour into plastic bags that are sort of brick shaped... I can think of lots of ways to build up a structure that could be filled with concrete - automatically.
A fleet of these trucks could throw up a small town in no time, such as for disaster relief.
My bet is that a house design that affords easy and automatic construction will not look anything like current homes. It may look like a geodesic dome, or maybe like Fred Flintstone's somewhat organic looking house. It might look like Frank Lloyd Wright's "Fallingwater". These homes could start a new fashion trend in housing and become a plaything of the extreme rich as much as of the extreme poor, changing their home design every year...
The main point here is that a solid, safe, and livable building should be built without significant human intervention, by a computer-controlled truck, as fast as concrete can be poured and set.
Concrete pouring machine (not Computer controlled)
Critical component [gtoal, May 18 2006]
Too fancy! Not the sort of house I imagine could really be done [gtoal, May 18 2006]
Living in concrete homes
Concrete is a good material for building homes from [gtoal, May 18 2006]
Just what I was thinking of! (stylistically) [gtoal, May 18 2006]
Not New Idea
This has been thought of and I think even done [jhomrighaus, May 18 2006]
Heres your machine [jhomrighaus, May 18 2006]
looks like you can build walls without them drooping like jelly [gtoal, May 18 2006]
If you have time... [zen_tom, May 19 2006]
Domes, polyurethane foam, shotcrete - what more can you ask for? [zen_tom, May 19 2006]
||This is a Baked Idea, i think it has actually been built to. See link for exact same Idea.
||I have seen a miniature version of this on televison (on the The Science Channel I believe).
||Cool links guys. Actually my first thought pre-posting was an X-Y plotter arrangement just like those pictured, but I realised that the infrastructure to
lug one of those around and set it up is pretty sizeable. The folding arm version is as flexible and standard robotics understands the movements of that type of linkage well enough to make it work.
||Would be interesting to marry this idea with the self-guided vehicle stuff like the big DOD/Darpa "Grand Challenge" competiton. (www.darpa.mil / grandchallenge)
||//Would be interesting to marry this idea with the self-guided vehicle stuff like the big DOD/Darpa "Grand Challenge" competiton. // To build caravans?
||You're simply suggesting having a computer guide the pour into Insulating Concrete Forms (ICF). The computer would need to be aware of overspills, on-site adjustments by the contractor and really, really try to avoid getting into concrete into the teeth that allow the next set of layers to be built up.