These drones make a 3D tower

Researchers have managed to coordinate a mini swarm of drones equipped with 3D printing heads. They managed to build a two-meter tower, and hope to one day use this technique to construct buildings.

In an article published in the journal NatureBritish and Swiss researchers have created a mini swarm of dronedrone capable of printing 3D structures. They were inspired by the way bees or wasps cooperate to build their nest.

The drones operate autonomously and in coordination, with a human supervisor who intervenes only in the event of a problem. Some are equipped with a print head, while others are equipped with sensorssensors to assess the accuracy of the print and ensure that the different layers are perfectly aligned. The printhead can also be adjusted to compensate for movementsmovements of the drone, which makes it possible to achieve a precision of the order of five millimetres.

Watch drones print 3D structures. Video in English, activate automatic translation of subtitles. © Nature

Print buildings without scaffolding or giant structures

Researchers have created several materials based on cementcement suitable for 3D printing. The drones managed to print a first cylinder, based on a mixture of viscous cement, 18 centimeters high and composed of 28 layers, as well as a second cylinder 2.05 meters high, composed of 72 layers of ‘a moussemousse insulating. They also equipped the drones with lightlight to simulate in time lapse the constructionconstruction of a much larger structure.

This technique could eventually be used to construct or repair buildings. With current methods of 3D printing buildings, the printer must be larger than the structure being produced. With drones, there are no limits. In particular, they could be used for construction sites that are difficult to access, such as in the mountains, or even to rebuild the top of a tower without the need forscaffoldingscaffolding.

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