The US Army has found an intriguing new use for 3D printing

US military could soon live in fully 3D-printed structures under new US Department of Defense plans

The DoD announced (opens in a new tab) a plan to 3D print three barracks, each measuring 5,700 square feet, which would be the largest 3D printed structures in the Americas and, indeed, the Western Hemisphere.

He added that it should be completed in about 10 months, a fairly quick time frame for such a huge project.

3D printed US Army barracks

“Building facilities using this cutting-edge technology reduces labor costs, reduces planning time and speeds construction of future facilities,” said Lt. Gen. of the army Doug Gabram. “We are investigating other ways to use this innovative technique for the rapid construction of other types of facilities beyond barracks.”

Starting with the barracks, which will be located in Fort Bliss, El Paso, Texas, makes sense: the costs should something go wrong are quite low.

The plan is only possible because the DoD changed its rules regarding materials and construction techniques to make 3D printing acceptable. Previously, the military did not allow 3D-printed concrete wall systems, but that has since changed.

American 3D printing

(Image credit: Ministry of Defence)

printing paradise

The news also sees the US military steal the title of the largest 3D printed structure. The previous record was held by the Texas Military Department, which built a 3,800 square foot barracks and 72 bunk beds in 2021 in partnership with ICON.

In this case, the US military used Lavacrete, a high-strength concrete, to build the structure. The material can withstand extreme heat and pressure.

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Above all, Lavacrete can also be printed at high speed while maintaining its shape. It’s easy to imagine the potential applications of these experiments with 3D printing to quickly build structures in war zones.

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