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Large scale 3-d printing

Home Forums Community Dreaming / Crazy Ideas / Speculation Large scale 3-d printing

This topic contains 13 replies, has 8 voices, and was last updated by Profile photo of JW JW 1 year, 3 months ago.

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    Profile photo of Michael

    Instead of having several countractors work on seastead, wouldn’t it make more sense to use a 3-d printer to manufacture the entire structure? 3-d printers have been used to print polymer materials already, many of which offer protection from sea-water corrosion. I know building a large-scale printer is a challenge because a specific temperature range is needed for operation (at least for the process involving polymers).

    Of course polymers aren’t the only materials to use. Large scale 3-d printers are more feasible for concrete (already being considered for residential construction). An earlier post mentions using foam and concrete to make a seastead.

    Does anyone know of any other possible barriers to large scale 3-d printing besides heat?

    Profile photo of

    I think printing something the size of an oil rig in one piece is going to be too much to ask for, especially when you consider maintenance issues, if something breaks down, you want to replace only the broken part, not print another complete replacement “oilrig”.

    3D printing is important to seasteading as it would allow us to print parts on demand rather than having to keep parts in our stores just in case something breaks down, the open source RepRap community is working hard to develop the technology, and we could help by experimenting with plastic collected from the gyres to create recycled plastic for printing with.

    The most obvious problem that needs to be dealt with or planned for is that plastic breaks down with exposure to ultra violet light, some chemical added to the plastic might slow down that process, but not being a chemical engineer, I do not know what additive is needed or even possible.

    The RepRap can only make components that fit within its build table, I imagine something like a spider that can travel to its work area and lay down as much plastic as is needed to effect the repair, it should be able to build the parts needed to assemble new single family seasteads for occupation by newly independant children of the family, as their first home.

    Maybe one or two seasteaders could have expensive, professional 3D printers to supply the whole community with parts, but this impacts the independence of individual seasteaders.

    I worry about people being trapped on an abusive seastead where they are effectively prisoners with no way of getting help, and I would like to see seasteads grow as clusters of single family seasteads, so if things get rough in one place, they can drop their moorings and sail off to another cluster.

    An alternative to concrete that could be experimented with is of course, seacrete.

    Profile photo of i_is_j_smith

    There are plenty of groups experimenting with large-scale concrete 3D printing, for applications in the housing industry.  This is both high-throughput printing of modules and components that are assembled on-site, all the way up to large-scale printing of entire structures.

    Future of Construction Process: 3D Concrete Printing


    Concrete-Jet Robot



    There is no reason why you couldn’t design a large-scale concrete 3D printer that can create entire single-family seasteads…or modules for creating large modular concrete structures.


    Seacrete is a non-starter.  Never going to happen.


    more on seasteading and 3D printing, matrix printing, conture crafting in this thread:

    Profile photo of Patric

    It would be excellent if the robots were a permanent feature to the exterior of the oil rig, nothing imposing is possible, but that they could simultaneously demolish and then rebuild the mini town with a different architecture style every six months based on the designs for improvement of the inhabitants on board.

    Working very much like Japan with their tangle of wires above ground technology/living conditions would be replaced much after than anywhere else.

    I would consider living on a rig that changed it’s architectural design every few months, it would be interesting to see how people would cope with new.

    Profile photo of OCEANOPOLIS

    Wow…we should have robots now….that will “simultaneously demolish and then rebuild the mini town with a different architecture style every six months based on the designs for improvement of the inhabitants on board”.

    Now THAT would be some cool thing!!!! What else do you have in mind, Patric?

    Profile photo of Patric

    I am from Europe and we have a lot of protected buildings and wonderful architecture, however in the USA there is little that is sacrosanct (or pretty) and that plays to both extremes. Wile China, which is sort of a little of both, is happily bulldozing it’s architectural history away, but only because the Government is strong, right now.

    Ultimately people like a base, a home, something familiar. It would be interesting to see if those that chose to experiment could come up with wonderfully elaborate designs to call home, or school, then demolish them and still move on, could people cope with such a pace of change and what would happen to those people’s sense of value?

    If the sense of physical surroundings has no permanent feature in anybodies life then what if that were extended to the sense of time, for every six months those surroundings would change. How then would the community react if that period were extended or retracted, how could they adjust, speed being the theme of the community it would seem.

    Families that have little foundation produce children who are far less able to cope in the world. Would the quick rotation of surroundings (homes) allow for such behaviour for all and how would that better explain architecture to those that produce it?

    Complete change is what I proposed, so it’s natural that the changes are on a scale like nothing else, but would it really produce anything we haven’t seen. would it really be for the greater good, should change even be visible, or should it therefore not simply be internal.. perhaps a community of bungalows, all identical, but inside, everything is changing at a six month pace, perhaps kept private, for competitive reasons, would that be a more stable environment?

    Profile photo of Ken Sims
    Ken Sims

    For my own living environment, I like to find something that works, then leave it alone unless there is an actual benefit to the change.
    I’m not married. I’ve been living in the same apartment for a little over eleven years. All of the furniture is still in the same layout that I determined when I originally moved in.


    The kind of structure – light floating honeycomb structure – you can build if you get the building process right.
    We built that as a pilot project to explore floating concrete honeycomb structures of 5mm wallthickness.

    Internal honeycomb structure WHY yacht. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bl4sbM_O_WA
    Light floating concrete shells make water based living feasible and affordable. A squaremeter real estate price of 166 USD – much more economic than on land is feasible. http://concretesubmarine.activeboard.com/t51926036/establishing-a-ramform-floating-base-in-the-high-seas-concre/
    The technology of dotting up a structure layer by layer goes very nice with a floating building site. You just keep dotting up the freeboard maintaining the build in equilibrium with Archimedes…The rion-antirion pylon building site shows the way…http://concretesubmarine.activeboard.com/t45825534/the-making-of-the-rion-antirion-bridge-pylon-video/
    (check 14 minutes into the film). What concerns 3-d printing today i recommend to take the building method of dotting up a structure like a printer, but i would perform the dotting by hand as there is no printing robot on the market that is up to the task of a real floating building site. I am sure it will come – but for now take the proceeding – and skip the “tedious machine computer component” to get a speedy process on a real world building site…old fashiond workers instructed properly to put concrete dots with a teaspoon will get a better result in real estate squaremeters built per day.

    Profile photo of i_is_j_smith

    in the USA there is little that is sacrosanct (or pretty)

    Er, you need to be careful in throwing out statements like that:
    Lincoln Memorial
    Falling Water
    Air Force Academy Chapel
    Empire State Building
    Trinity Church

    It would be interesting to see if those that chose to experiment

    That is the key here, isn’t it. You have to design a system that would allow inhabitants like Ken and I to stay in a place we have designed and enjoy, while allowing others to demo-and-rebuild at will. Where do all the materials come from? Do they have to pay for a new home each time? Will you expect inhabitants like Ken and I to subsidize those others who wish to keep rebuilding? What about infrastructure…will these experimental designs still have to conform to standards for safety/power/communication/waste? I think you need to put a little more thought into the basics of the system.

    Families that have little foundation produce children who are far less able to cope in the world.

    Show some sources for your information, please. I happen to know several people who came from military backgrounds. They moved all over the world, never in one place for a very long time, and they are very capable of coping in the world…perhaps more so than some people whose families have lived in the same little town for four generations. I really don’t think consistent architecture has a large impact on one’s ability to survive in the world.


    er,smith, how necessary is it to disscuss lengthy and forum cluttering about the OBVIOUS ?

    Profile photo of i_is_j_smith

    er,smith, how necessary is it to disscuss lengthy and forum cluttering about the OBVIOUS ?


    Hello, Kettle? This is the Pot. You’re black.

    Profile photo of Patric

    I think changing architecture normally reflects how monied a country/area is.. the saying that a City with lots of cranes is a healthy city settles that in my book, but what if it didn’t relate to money, what would it relate to… design, based on what though, because usually its born from necessity like Dock Yards or Office blocks, but now buildings can be fashioned in any way desired but for no greater reason than to build for oneself or community, it could just be that we all become more insular and selfish.

    Profile photo of JW

    The Seattle Houseboat communities show a lot of diversity. One often sees shacks next to modern bulidings, next to traditional ground-based designs.


    To me, this is an indication of how a seasteading community would grow; each their own design but sharing some common form and function.

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