What is the 3D Printing Drones’ Future in the Industry?

3D printing and drones are two unstoppable juggernauts of the tech industry right now based on the speed at which they develop and reinvent themselves. They both sort of offer a level of freedom in their respective fields that was not seen until very recently and the full potential of their implementations is only getting discovered lately. 

Thanks to the collaboration between College London and Empa, these two technologies can work in collaboration together to aid the construction industry. The new 3D printing drones, called BuilDrones, inspired by wasps, can work collaboratively on a single blueprint and make 3D-printed structures with the help of an extrusion system that is mounted on the drone.

How Do 3D Printing Drones Work? 

While we made it seem like there is only one drone type that is doing all the work by extruding cement, there are actually two drones that work together to get the job done. ScanDrones act as the scouts and analyzers that monitor the construction process and inform the other drones on the state of the project to help decide the next step. BuilDrones, which are equipped with a mechanism that closely resembles how FDM 3D printers work, extrude foam or a cement-like substance to build the blueprint at hand. When the BuilDrones are done ScanDrones capture a 3D map of the work done and decide on the next step once again. 

Maybe the most interesting thing about these 3D printing drones is that, just like wasps, they are able to work together instead of a single drone doing all the work. This scalable approach to building structures can change the construction sector as we know it by allowing for extremely fast building times compared to traditional methods when a large enough fleet is obtained. While human supervision is required to make sure the 3D printing drones function properly, BuilDrones and ScanDrones can already make AI-guided decisions on their own which means fully automating this system is entirely possible. 

In the future drones could also be used for construction in space.
Edited by Furkan Icoz / Original image by Yusuf Furkan Kaya

Future of 3D Printing and Drones in Construction

As the interest in 3D printing is at an all-time high for construction companies, this will only further the potential for more development for 3D printing as a construction tool. While there is still time before 3D printing drones become the gold standard in construction methods, the early structures look relatively promising. The first structures that are built with BuilDrones and ScanDrones are admittedly a little primitive at the moment. But this may mark the beginning of something big, especially for construction in remote areas or other unreachable places. 3D printing drones can also help the defensive industry in urban warfare as the drones can be used to build makeshift covers for operators to use for protection without risking human life.

We doubt this is going to be the last time we heard about 3D printing drones. It is only a matter of time until the technology catches up to the vision and we finally start seeing great results. But until then, it is certainly an interesting topic to discuss.

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