Flying 3D printer drones work like bees to fix buildings

By | September 26, 2022

The drones employ building techniques that are similar to wasps and bees and were designed by a team from Bath University. University of Bath.

They are able to be used to construct and manufacture in areas that are difficult to access, such as high-rises or in dangerous areas for post-disaster relief and construction.

The inventors claim they can reduce costs and increase the security of construction.

3D printing is growing in recognition in the construction industry . the lead investigator for the project Dr. Richard Ball, said the new materials utilized specific properties that are needed to enable “aerial additive production”.

This includes being lightweight and fast-setting.

Stone wall entrance of the University of Bath Image SOURCE, GETTY CREATIVE / ISOCK
Image caption: The research was presented in the science journal Nature

The drones of the fleet, referred to collectively by the acronym Aerial Additive Manufacturing (Aerial-AM) are able to work together from the same blueprint, adjusting their methods as they progress.

While they’re “fully autonomous” when flying however, they are supervised by an individual who monitors their performance and intervenes should they need to, and make decisions based on information given by drones.

The research was published in the Science journal Nature.

The lead writer Professor Mirko Kovac told the media that his team has demonstrated that drones are able to be used in a teamwork and independently in order to “construct and repair structures at a minimum in the laboratory”.

To demonstrate the concept the concept, researchers tried four cement-like mix-ups for drones to construct with.

“Validate our solutions”

The drones analyzed the printed geometry during the building in real-time and then adjusted their behaviour in order to comply with the building specifications.


Researchers measured the precision of the manufacturing as being less than “five millimetres”.

They stated that the print’s performance structure must be precisely anticipated to ensure “mechanical reliability during print process”.

The proof-of-concept prints comprised an 2.05-metre (6.7ft) large cylindrical (72 layers) made of a polyurethane-based material, and an 18 centimetre (7ins) tall the cylinder (28 layers) that was custom-designed structural cement-like substance.

Dr. Paul Shepherd, another project investigator, explained that the next step was to collaborate with construction firms to “validate our methods and offer repairs and building capabilities”.

Professor Kovac Director of the Aerial Robotics Laboratory at Imperial College London, who directed the project, stated that they believed that the drones’ fleet could lower the cost and risk of future construction “compared to manual methods that are traditional”.

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