NTU Singapore has created a new record of sorts by 3D printing an unfurnished bathroom in less than a day.
Once printed, the bathroom can be furnished with toilet fittings to become a prefabricated unit.
According to the researchers, there is enough space to include a sink, mirror, shower, toilet bowl, ceramic tiled walls and flooring, complete with concealed drains and piping.
The new process has been heralded as a game changer, as it could help firms build Prefabricated Bathroom Units (PBU) about 30% more quickly and 30% lighter than current PBUs.
According to the engineers, the printing process takes half the time needed in the construction of a conventional bathroom unit using concrete casting.
The fittings, tiling and finishing on the other hand, take another five days to complete.
The new innovation is based on a joint research between NTU associate professor Tan Ming Jen’s team, Sembcorp Design and Construction, and Sembcorp Architects & Engineers.
According to the researchers, the 3D printed bathroom aims to improve productivity through the use of digital and robotic fabrication methods.
PBUs are usually cast from concrete and completely pre-assembled offsite with all necessary finishes and fittings, ready to be lifted and installed in a building project.
3D printing a bathroom unit could help manufacturers halve their production time while lowering transport costs, carbon emissions and materials wastage.
“By being able to print-on-demand, companies can save on their inventory costs as well as manpower costs, as they don’t have to hold as much stock and their workers can be redeployed to do higher-level tasks,” says Tan.
“This approach improves the safety of the workplace, since robots are doing the construction of the bathroom unit.”
The printing is carried out in a single build using a 6-axis KUKA Robotic arm, which has a reach of about 6 meters in diameter.
The specially designed concrete mixture is then fed to mixers and pumped out of a nozzle mounted on the robotic arm, depositing the material layer by layer according to the digital blueprint.
The walls of the PBU were printed in a W-lattice shape to save material and lend additional strength to the final structure, apart from inducing weight savings of up to 30%.
Image and content: NTU Singapore