3D printing robot tackles low-rise building construction

The Cazza X1 robot 3D prints houses.
The Cazza X1 robot prints an average 400 metres per hour, depending on the material used.

Cazza, a California-based tech company, has released a portable 3D printing robot designed to reduce construction time and cost.

In June, the company began taking orders for the CazzaX1, which may be used to build homes, villas, warehouses and free-standing structures up to five metres in height. The robots sell for $480,000 US for the base model.

Cazza claims the X1 is capable of building a two-storey, 2,000 square foot home in eight days. The build is 30 per cent more cost effective when compared to traditional building methods, the company claims.

The robot requires about a half hour of prep time before it begins work on a structure. From there, the X1 prints an average 400 metres per hour, depending on the material used.

The robot has continuous tracks, measuring 3.6 by 3.4 by 0.8 metres, making it mobile, easy to manoeuver and able to build structures onsite or indoors for prefabrication structures.

Workers required

For a typical build, the X1 requires three workers on hand to assist the process; one to control the robot, another to handle supplying concrete and the third to tackle general labour tasks. The robot has a printing accuracy of 0.1 mm spherically, and is capable of reading 3D Max and CAD files.

Cazza was created by Chris Kelsey and Fernando de los Rios, who began developing the X1 about 18 months before its commercial release. After hearing about problems faced on the jobsite from a friend in the construction industry, Kelsey and de los Rios turned to 3D printing to solve issues with efficiency, as well as high living costs and onsite construction risks. From there, they recruited a team of experts in construction, artificial intelligence and robotics to build the X1.

Dubai eyes robot

Before its commercial release, the robot was used in several private projects. Cazza has also partnered with the municipal government in Dubai, which aims to 3D print 25 per cent of its buildings by 2030.

Using the company’s concrete-based formula, the X1 can print walls up to 20 cm thick. The formula is also adaptable based on the build location’s climate. The company claims the finished structure is as durable as a traditional build.

The X1 handles construction aspects outside and inside the structure. On the outside of a building, the robot is capable of constructing walls, architectural and decorative features and formwork for the foundation. Roofing work is also a possibility, depending on the weight that may rest upon it.

On the inside of the building, the robot can automate production of customized prefab and modular structures.  Durign construction, electrical and plumbing elements are installed via traditional methods. As well, Cazza’s software analyzes where the electrical and plumbing will be placed. The X1 will also pause construction allowing electrical and plumbing installation.