Royal BAM Group last week unveiled a new type of robot: a "building machine" that is able autonomously to move around a building site on its own and print stone or concrete buildings.
A prototype of the "3D Builder" entered service on the FabCity project in Amsterdam, where it is constructing the "Landscape House", a quarter-scale building designed by Rotterdam-based practice Universe Architecture.
The printer in action (BAM)
According to BAM, the machine is the first to link free-form printing with the latest technology from the robotics industry. A video showing the building machine in action can be viewed here.
It is also an attempt to make the building industry more "circular" – that is, it can recycle its own products by making building out of waste concrete and stone.
Rutger Sypkens, commercial manager with BAM Bouw en Techniek, said: "As well as the form freedom, we are also very much taken by the circular process. Concrete granulate and pre-existing prints can serve as a raw material for the machine at a later stage."
The company says: "This ground-breaking innovation makes free-form architecture possible, as well as the creation of complex ornamental exteriors. The new robot with an exchangeable print head can print stone and concrete using the Italian D-shape method."
It added: "In the future, it will be possible to link new print techniques for steel and insulation material."
The robot, which was developed in cooperation with Eindhoven robotics company Acotech, can be fitted with caterpillar tracks to enable it to travel autonomously across a building site.
Janjaap Ruijssenaars, the founder of Universe Architecture, said: "It’s fantastic that we have jointly conceived a machine that can make something new. This was much more commonplace for architects during the Renaissance."