Once again, the US military has turned to additive manufacturing. After engaging the services of Boeing, ExOne and other 3D printing companies, the US army has once again partnered with the now famous construction company ICON. In the past, the American company has already provided U.S. troops with several buildings, such as training barracks or bunkers to store vehicles. This time, ICON’s goal is to design three barracks to house troops in Fort Bliss, Texas. And to do this, the company intends to use the Vulcan printer, its famous machine which has been used for numerous projects in the State both for both commercial housing and military use.
At 5,700 square feet per building, the barracks made with ICON will each be the largest 3D-printed buildings in the Western Hemisphere, according to the US Department of Defense press release. Lt. Gen. Doug Gabram, Commanding General of US Army Installation Management Command, commented, “This project supports the Army’s three priorities: people, readiness and modernization. Building facilities with this advanced technology saves labor costs, reduces planning time and increases the speed of construction of future facilities. We are exploring other ways to use this innovative technique for rapid construction of other types of facilities besides barracks.” In another first, the press releases expands that the buildings will also be the first 3D printed structures to comply with the DoD’s Unified Facilities Criteria (UFC) for additive concrete construction.
The Benefits of the Partnership Between the US Army and ICON
In order to build these 3 barracks, ICON intends to use its Lavacrete material. Developed by the American company and dedicated to 3D printing, this material is similar to concrete and would be able to withstand extreme weather conditions and considerably reduce the impact of natural disasters. As for the construction costs, ICON refused to disclose the amount spent on printing the 3 huts. However, the company says it has reduced the cost of construction by 10-30% using 3D technologies, compared to traditional methods.
According to the various stakeholders in the project, the three barracks are expected to see the light of day within 10 months. Brendan O’Donoghue, vice president of public sector at ICON, concludes, “Currently there is a multi-billion dollar backlog of housing and this impacts those serving our country. We are proud to collaborate with the US Army and continue our partnership with DIU to see diverse use cases for ICON’s technology and to deliver resilient, comfortable 3D-printed barracks for enlisted Soldiers at Ft. Bliss.” You can find out more about the project HERE.