Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) has patented a novel process for 3D printing buildings. The technology, called SkyBAAM (Sky Big Area Additive Manufacturing), works by installing a concrete application module on ropes attached to the booms standing next to it, and a high crane that keeps the whole thing in the air. The creators of the SkyBAAM technology claim that the ease of system configuration eliminates the need for extensive site preparation for the installation of stationary frame systems and their accurate calibration, which makes them unprofitable.

The process is described in the patent as follows: “a cable driven additive manufacturing system that consists of an end effector configured for linear displacement in a three dimensional workspace, an air lift from which the end effector is suspended (…) and a plurality of base stations positioned underneath an overhead lift with control cables running from each of them ”.

Unlike traditional concrete 3D printers, the SkyBAAM system described in the ORNL patent is designed to operate through a series of modules that can be controlled by on-site base stations. There is a pendant terminal at the top of the machine to which any cement compatible nozzle can be attached, as well as a boom that can support a hose for material delivery.

In practice, two of its base stations equipped with drives such as cable drums can be mounted to align the nozzle, while the third serves as a passive base that only controls tension. The SkyBAAM 3D printer is still in the early stages of development, but ORNL used it for the first projects in 2020.

Source and Photo: www.ornl.gov

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