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Marines Conduct New 3D-Printing Exercise

Tuesday, September 3, 2019

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Last week, the United States Marine Corps announced a successful, first-known 3D concrete printing operation involving a 3-inch print nozzle and new continuous mixer.

The printing exercise was conducted at the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Construction Engineering Research Laboratory in Champaign, Illinois, and involved Marines from the Marine Corps Systems Command, 7th Engineer Support Battalion and engineers from the USACE.

About the Exercise

In early August, the team conducted a print operation involving a new continuous mixer and 3-inch pump, which resulted in the successful printing of multiple structures including barracks and a bridge, for which they used a 2-inch pump and hose.

U.S. Marine Corps

Last week, the United States Marine Corps announced a successful, first-known 3D concrete printing operation involving a 3-inch print nozzle and new continuous mixer.

According to Megan Kreiger, project lead for the Automated Construction of Expeditionary Structures—or ACES—team at CERL, the team was able to print larger structures faster and will less waste, due to the increased the size of the nozzle.

“This is really the first time we’ve ever printed something large with this system,” said Kreiger. “It is experimental right now and we are trying to push the technology forward. This is the first time in the world anyone has really tried using these larger bead systems with these larger pumps.”

In addition to the barracks and a bridge, the team also printed a bunker that was designed by the Drafting and Survey combat engineers from 7th ESB based on practical field experience.

As reported in the press release, the 3D printing method shows improved thermal energy performance by 10 times and more than doubles the strength of the structure. Additional data also shows a reduction in cost by 40%, a reduction in concrete materials by 44%, reduces construction time by 50% and reduces manpower by 50%.

“The new mixer we are testing is a commercial model of a mixer that is already within the Marine Corps repertoire in the Airfield Damage Repair Kit,” said Capt. Matthew Audette, project officer for the Advanced Manufacturing Operations Cell at MCSC. “That means we don’t have to field a new piece of gear in addition to the printer to make this work.”

What’s Happening Next

Now, the teams envision completing 3D printing projects with a 4-inch nozzle with the continuous mixer. Additionally, the 7th ESB Marines plan to build a conventional bunker similar to the 3D-printed version and compare them in demolitions testing.

“With vertical construction, we are still in the realm of what we were doing 100 years ago,” said Audette. “Working with the Army Corps of Engineers to develop this technology we are reducing the man-hours involved, the labor involved and the materials involved.”

Combat engineers also predict a similar system being deployed to a forward operating base that would be operational within a few days after arrival. The system would be able to print small structures quickly and then be transported to entry control points and operation posts.


Tagged categories: 3D printing; 3D Printing; concrete; Construction; Government; Infrastructure; NA; North America; Program/Project Management; U.S. Army; U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

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