The Swarmscapers: Students Create 3D Printing Robots Capable of Building in Outlying Areas

Imagine a reality of 3D printing robots, in a community unto themselves, diligently working in unpredictable temperatures and conditions, strong and steady — just taking care of business. Efficiently. Perfectly. Without complaint. This is what a group of student architects are perfecting with the Swarmscapers.

Imagine these silent machines excavating materials, compiling them, seamlessly 3D printing, and building a colony on Mars where humans could live indefinitely. Robots have all the time in the world. We could set them to work and go back to our business while they make a building, or an entire community on the moon. 3D printed robots creating 3D printed buildings: it’s the ultimate in a perfect cycle of sustainability.

While progressing in robotics and finding ways to colonize space are both things listed on the big human “to do” list, they may be coming together as one of the quotients in answering how to complete building tasks in places we are quite simply unwelcome, and where colonization has previously been impossible.

A project just completed in the Creative Architecture Machines studio at California College of the Arts in the Digital Craft Lab displays the architectural — and engineering — talents of student architects Clayton Muhleman, Alan Cation, and Adithi Satish. While they are not expected to be engineers, the point of the project was that they, as architects, be responsible in a building project from A to Z. That included making their tools for building as well. In answer to the question regarding how they did in creating their own technological tools rather than just relying on ready-made templates supplied by engineers, the students were able indeed to fill in the gaps in a superior manner that exhibited innovation which may be very useful. The biggest question left here is when NASA will come calling. … (read more)