Researchers from Nanyang Technological University in Singapore have developed a way to 3D print bathrooms, and they do it in less than a day.
The team spent four years developing a concrete formula that could flow through the hoses and print nozzle, but harden fast enough to hold the next layer of material. The green compound includes geopolymers that are made from fly ash waste.
Once the researchers found the right mix, they started printing prefabricated bathroom units (PBUs). The method not only manufactures the prefab bathrooms about 30% faster than traditional methods, but 30% lighter as well.
The concrete is poured into a mixer and then pumped through a six-axis KUKA robotic arm that has a reach of about 20 feet. The material is laid down in a W lattice-shaped pattern which provides strength while cutting down on material.
The unfurnished bathroom is about 6.5 feet long, 8.5 feet wide and 9.18 feet tall, and it’s printed in 12 hours. The team also designed a smaller unit that can be printed in nine hours.
After the structure is completed, the bathroom is furnished with the necessities, like a sink, toilet, mirrors and shower, as well as ceramic tiled walls and flooring. Adding the fittings and tiling takes about five days.
NTU’s Singapore Center for 3D Printing worked with Sembcorp Design and Construction and Sembcorp Architects & Engineers on the proof-of-concept, which stands to shakeup the building and construction industry.
The bathrooms are currently undergoing water absorption and fire resistance tests. If and when the design is approved by local construction authorities, the researchers hope to commercialize the technology through licensing or a spin-off company.