Printing large shelters with 3D printers is a growing field of construction. Over the last decade, architects and technologists have “printed” layers of concrete-like materials, plastics, and raw earth with crane booms and robotic arms.
Now, “inspired by bees and wasps who work together to deposit material and create large yet intricate structures,” researchers are developing 3D printers that fly.
This Nature video introduces the insect-inspired team of aerial robots—drones with mounted 3D printers—designed to create emergency shelters or homes in remote locations.
The challenges: Technological precision, structural integrity, and the drones’ semi-autonomous collaboration.
“…the team thinks that the aerial printers could be useful in less accessible places, like in mountains or disaster zones. Or they could be used for repairing things like facades, pylons, or pipelines without the need to build scaffolding.
“Aerial printing is also scalable—you don’t need a printer bigger than the thing you’re building when you have a team of smaller flying printers.
“The hope is that 3D printing could be a more environmentally-friendly alternative to traditional construction methods. And printing with drones, inspired by the natural world, could be an important part of making construction greener.”
Watch these shelter, 3D-printing, and biomimicry videos:
• Mud Frontiers, an exploration of 3D-printed mud shelters and objects
• Building a House the Eco-Friendly Way with 3D Printing
• Flight Assembled Architecture
• 3D printing with 1900F molten glass – G3DP at MIT
• How are sustainable SuperAdobe homes built?
• How do cliff swallows build their mud pellet nests?
This Webby award-winning video collection exists to help teachers, librarians, and families spark kid wonder and curiosity. TKSST features smarter, more meaningful content than what's usually served up by YouTube's algorithms, and amplifies the creators who make that content.
Curated, kid-friendly, independently-published. Support this mission by becoming a sustaining member today.