US Army to print large barracks to save money and time

Digital render of Icon’s 3D-printed army barracks in Fort Bliss, Texas (Courtesy of Logan Architecture)
The US Army has begun work on three printed barracks in Texas that it says will be the largest such structures in the western hemisphere.

The barracks will be printed at Fort Bliss near El Paso, with the project overseen by a collaboration between the Defence Innovation Unit, the US Army Installation Management Command and the Engineer Research and Development Centre.

The printing will be carried out using a Vulcan 3D printer made by local 3D printing specialist Icon, to a design by Austin-based Logan Architecture.

Each barrack will measure over 5,700 sq ft, making it only slightly smaller than the 6,900 sq ft administrative building in Dubai, built in 2020 and present holder of the title of world’s largest printed building.

The printing process will use Icon’s proprietary Lavacrete cement, which will be extruded in layers to form the structure of the buildings. The barracks will then be fitted out conventionally with roofs, windows, wiring and plumbing.

The whole process is expected to take 10 months to complete.

A video of the printer in action can be seen here.

Lieutenant General Doug Gabram, commander of the Installation Management Command said: “Constructing facilities using this cutting-edge technology saves labour costs, reduces planning time and increases the speed of construction of future facilities. We are looking at other ways to use this innovative technique for rapid construction of other types of facilities beyond barracks.”

Brendan O’Donoghue, an Icon vice president, added: “We are proud to collaborate with the U.S. Army and continue our partnership with DIU to see diverse use cases for Icon’s technology across the Department of Defence and to deliver resilient, comfortable 3D-printed barracks for soldiers at Fort Bliss.” 

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