3D Printing Drones Can Build Homes Just Like Bees

3D Printing Drones Can Build Homes Just Like Bees. Researchers from Imperial College London and Empa researchers have created a fleet of bee-inspired flying 3D printers for building and repairing structures in-flight. The technology could ultimately be used for manufacturing and building in difficult-to-access or dangerous locations such as tall buildings or help with post-disaster relief construction. The new approach to 3D printing uses flying robots, known as drones, that use collective building methods inspired by natural builders like bees and wasps. The drones in the fleet, known collectively as Aerial Additive Manufacturing (Aerial-AM), work co-operatively from a single blueprint, adapting their techniques as they go. They are fully autonomous while flying but are monitored by a human controller who checks progress and intervenes if necessary, based on the information provided by the drones. The fleet consists of BuilDrones, which deposit materials during flight, and quality-controlling ScanDrones. To test the concept, the researchers developed four bespoke cementitious mixtures for the drones to build with. The proof-of-concept prints included a 2.05-metre high cylinder (72 layers) with a polyurethane-based foam material and an 18-centimetre high cylinder (28 layers) with a custom-designed structural cementitious material. The technology offers future possibilities for building and repairing structures in tall or other hard-to-access locations.