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Matrix Printing Technology in Seasteading

Home Forums Research Engineering Matrix Printing Technology in Seasteading

This topic contains 46 replies, has 7 voices, and was last updated by Profile photo of ellmer - http://yook3.com ellmer – http://yook3.com 1 year, 6 months ago.

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    The sea allows to apply new technologies in a much better way than land does. One of the visions for a possible future that comes to mind is a giant floating matrix printer that prints out floating concrete structures like family homes and seasteading modules on industrial scale. You could not move around such a printer on land – but you can at sea.

    Let me hear your thoughts…

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    Might be difficult to get it to hold position in waves. The ocean isn’t a stable surface, and it isn’t predictable, except that it’s going to be unstable and unpredictable. That said, i could say i built my house in “dots”, if you allow each dot to be about 50lbs of cement in a 5gal bucket… but that was on stable ground where the cement was not moved while it set up. This is my issue about the grand schemes Ellmer has about concrete or cement: they are 50m/160ft wide barges cast as one piece, you cannot make them at sea. There’s too much movement going on, plus realisticaly how would you get all that much concrete or cement out to the project at one time? And when i ask about methods of joining multiple smaller units which anyone can make at sea, i do not get answers. I have something i want to try later this year (2014).



    I don’t see any reason why this matrix printer would not work exactly the same way on the watersurface when mounted on Catamaran floats…

    To recieve the first layer of dots you would put styrofoam sheets on the watersurface. Of course you would need a calm bay instead of 30m waves for the first steps when the build is delicate …

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    Ellmer, if i am right, smaller sections could be made on any heavy duty pontoon boat, supplied with materials from a second pontoon boat every day, pieces put into the ocean after they have set up some time, then attached together after another week of curing. It’s not dot-matrix printing, but each section can be made just like the house-printer url you gave, automated even, and on a small budget too.

    I hope to put out in a steel frame using cement floats, and be able to make an all-cement frame before the steel one rusts away. The #1 problem tho is: how to attach the fracture-prone cement sections so tension stresses, and recurring point contact pressures, by the water or from section to section, won’t break it up? Problem #2 is how to make a 15cm/6inch diameter 12m/40ft cement column as strong in all ways as a steel one.


    The fundamental issue in automatisation of construction is that houses do not move – so if you have output of houses those houses “clutter your fabrication site” – the solution would be to move the assembly line around – but this creates a lot of practical issues (lot of weight to move lot of parts to assemble to finally build just one house and then move on).
    In car assembly lines you can have the production site fixed and move the product around the globe to sell it – this does not work in houses (only if you keep the prefab house container size which has been implemented with limited success).

    The ocean offeres a obvious solution to that “construction automatisation dilemma” you can keep the assebly line and its infrastructure fixed and move the houses out especially if the houses can be “shipped over open water” like the ramform.
    Or the bubble house concept:
    Or the captain nemo float out:
    This means one printing installation can supply global demand on housing units – and that is revolutionary for the construction sector which is used to work locally only.
    More about this topic:


    See how matrix printing technology works…

    In this context also see why oceanic business is the next big thing to come…


    floating concrete pod
    A floating concrete pod element built in Cartagena as a testpiece with the same process used in contour crafting (matrix printing) – the only difference – it is not a machine that puts the dots on the structure it is a worker with a bucket full of fiber cement and a spoon…

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    Ellmer, that floating piece was plainly cast in a mold made of lumber, the board impressions are visable on the sides.


    Kat check your “board impressions” in that video – http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=JdbJP8Gxqog – they come from the process moving up and overflow of material – and i should know how it was made, i advised and helped Don Arturo (standing in it) how to make it – i am the one with the camara…by the way matrix printing is not new – in fact the shell of the Panteon in Rome was made in that process (a thin layer by hand a few inch at a time – working fresh in fresh) some 2000 years ago. Still standing, very tough structure…also dam building is sometimes done layer by layer fresh in fresh to get a seamless piece, Troll A was built in layer method with a slip form…at the end it is not about “either or” of building processes – for seasteading i would advocate to apply a wide arrow of building processes inculding all the traditional ones and all the new ones that come into reach with the development of computing.
    What we did in Cartagena is testing all the processes we have ever heard of and apply them to our floating test pieces. The point is building up a critical mass of know how to be able to pull it off. Much of that is just “become crafty with the material” like an artist before you go to “advanced structural sculpturing” robot supported or by hand. The key is in the “logistics integration” on a practical building site. And once you figure out the practical details – apply it on large scale. Once you have it you can build literally anything – a floating box or a 200 ton submarine, have been there, have done that…

    Kat, this brings us also back to the other discussion – how small can you start a seastead ? – you can start it by floating a single sheet of styrofoam on the watersurface and start putting a few dots of fiberconcrete on it – in a few hours you should have a canoe sized piece, if you go for a ramform hundred years later that canoe sized shell is still the point of of the nose of a floating structure the size of VENICE – if you can keep the momentum of the project…
    More about floating out a Seastead with small beginnings…
    More about the Ramform Seastead:
    More about why oceanic business is next big thing to come…

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    I downloaded and watched the TED talk on printing a house. Before going further, let me point out there’s a lot of bad design going on in their vision of a neighborhood, from various points of view. 1) I recall the biggest complaint after settling in on military bases where all the houses were the same, is: all the house are the same. And it wasn’t the married individual houses, the single men in their “warehouses” also pointed out everything was identical. This led to inordinate amounts of time (i remember this) of the people living in them trying to develop some decorative difference to define themselves as “i’m not the neighbors”. 2) The stepping stones, surely from some dreamer’s idyllic past, are a nightmare in real life, due to vastly increased time mowing the grass around, to the bouncing of grocery carriers breaking eggs, jostling babies into crying, twisted ankles when stepping at the edge of the ‘stone’, being nearly impossible for wheelchairs and walkers, and an overall disaster for small wheeled robotic helpers. 3) Roofs accessable to the general public are generally for throwing things off on onto anything or anyone below, and should be discouraged; they should be for machinery (air conditioner, heater, water collection, solar, etc). 4) I found it amusing the section titled “adobe houses” as if they don’t call them “mud huts” when the owner is away. 5) I believe those 4 points are indicators of bad decisions throughout the rest of the design work, and keep in mind that a talk at TED is not an approval by anyone, it’s simply a presentation.

    I saw most of the forming wasn’t “dot matrix”, it was continuous slipforming, or plain extrusion. I don’t know if he said that or not, i don’t have sound on this computer. The wavey deposition in the core of the wall would never pass inspection in the usa, as it’s discontinuous to the layer below and to the wall surface depositions, doesn’t matter if each deposition layer is fiber reinforced or not. Plus, there’s no steel rebar, and that’s not to be taken trivally, Florida allows concrete/cement block wall now only if the block is filled with concrete and rebar. Note i said concrete, the TED talk used cement.

    Have you ever seen the insides of a concrete pump? It’s massive diesel air pump and machinery, it burns a lot of fuel. The concrete supplier doesn’t own one, a building contractor might. If the contractor and the concrete truck do not arrive as scheduled at the same time, you still get billed for each, but you got no concrete placed. You may displace labor costs with this system, but you don’t save any money. Displacing labor means people with out jobs.

    There is a contractor in Florida who builds homes with less than a week of labor on the site. You get the slab poured, then he sets up wall forms his 1st day, concrete pours them complete with all conduit plus insulation the 2nd day, attaches the roof the 3rd day, strips the forms the 4th day, does cleanup and ‘polishing’ the 5th day, installs doors and windows the 6th day, and he’s gone. His crew is like 5 guys for each day, a flatbed truck for transport of materials, and a boom truck for lifting. If i recall correctly, one of his early houses was the only one standing in a neighborhood totally wiped out by one hurricane.

    There’s a Japanese contractor does things a little differently. He builds the roof on the ground, then jacks it up and puts the house under it, no need to work out in the weather. I have heard of a contractor in the usa up north, he builds the entire house with the rooms bolted together in his warehouse, but he leaves off the nuts from the bolts. The owner does a walk-thru, approves it, it’s lifted one room at a time to a truck, carried to the site the next day and reassembled, this time with the nuts attached. Time involved is like 2 weeks in warehouse and 2 days on-site. I saw video of a contractor that does the same one wall at a time, up to 40ft long, prefabbed with insulation and wiring and plumbing and framed openings, he shows up one morning with house parts, you can live in the house that night. I saw video of an entire multi-storey (maybe it was 5 floors tall?) apartment complex go up in one 48hour assembly.

    I think once you look into the nitty-gritty of dot-matrixing a cement house, and getting it legal (especially in Florida, with their hurricane codes), the cost will put you off. Plus the cost of the dot matrix machine. As for outside the usa, whenever you can hire cheap human labor to plop concrete into a slipform, you’ll never spend the money on a pricey automated way to do it, plus you’ll need even pricer labor to dis/assemble and relocate your machinery, and bigger trucks to carry it. It would a crane to dissassmble the plotter in the TED animation and put it on a transport truck.

    Want to know how i’d do it if i was forced to? A lightweight sectional bridge crane good for one cu yard, a cheap concrete bucket and a mixer, otherwise the same as the Fla contractor who does use a concrete pump. And i say this as someone who has poured 18ft tall cement walls.

    An even faster way? Frame the house in any shape you like, fasten steel lath to the outside, and shotcrete it. Company in Oz laid out rebar on a flattened balloon on the ground, inflated the balloon to raise the rebar to a dome shape, and blew concrete all over it that afternoon. The pressure inside the balloon was low enough that workers could go inside and install interior walls as the dome concrete set up, by the 4th day deflate the balloon and it’s all done and liveable.

    Not that any of those ways is necessarily applicable to a boat, but i am intrigued by Ocean’s plan to essentially stucco his barges. I look forwards to his progress reports. My bay window stucco has held up very well, and it might be a great way to clad the entire seastead above the waterline too. I do not know of any reports on the flexure of a framed construction combined with the low tensile strength of a cement covering on a wavey ocean surface. I seem to recall someone shotcreting styrofoam blocks for a floating dock, the cement shattered badly over time as the dock flexed in the waves.

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    all the house are the same.

    That’s the beauty of the 3D printing idea…every house can be custom-created for the individual user. The reason all the houses in your example are the same is because a single construction company used the same forms over-and-over to build each house. With 3D printing the customer can sit down and create their own custom house, upload the blueprint, and the machine builds the house exactly to those specifications down to outlet, conduit, and window locations. If anything 3D printing will cause more variation in structures in a given area.

      Plus, there’s no steel rebar

      Contour Crafting has a whole section of their technical paper where they discuss using the robotic arm to insert reinforcement systems, from steel mesh to other advanced materials.

        You can find the paper here: http://contourcrafting.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/04/AIC2004-Paper1.pdf

          I believe what is so interesting about this technology is the ability to customize the rig for all situations. A rig that prints houses in a hurricane zone can be customized to use high-strength reinforcing materials, while a rig that prints houses in another area might not require that module.

            Plus you can use this technology to print subsections as well, just walls and slabs that users can then assemble on the fly. Even furniture can be custom printed. This will allow a seastead to be self-reliant when it comes to on-site construction and fabrication.

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              i_is_j_smith wrote: “That’s the beauty of the 3D printing idea…every house can be custom-created for the individual user. The reason all the houses in your example are the same is because a single construction company used the same forms over-and-over to build each house” ……. Umm, i was commenting on the example in the video where the whole neighborhood was done in 3D printing, and every house looked the same, which is why i started my post with the words: “I downloaded and watched the TED talk on printing a house”.

              i_is_j_smith wrote: “Contour Crafting has a whole section of their technical paper where they discuss using the robotic arm to insert reinforcement systems, from steel mesh to other advanced materials. “, and again, the video didn’t have that in the walls they acually built. In fact, the cement was setting up too fast to go back over and insert anything.

              i_is_j_smith wrote: “This will allow a seastead to be self-reliant when it comes to on-site construction and fabrication.”, and i’d like to know what he is feeding into the printhead that he does not need to go back to land to buy.

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              Has any one who is interested in the printing of a seastead done any cost evaluation of the machinery to print a basic structure, vs using reuseable steel (gasp!) metal forms, on one, or amortised over five seastead structures?

                Note i didn’t specify the size of the seastead, i expect you might specify the size you did the evaluation for, whatever size you think a “basic seastead” would be. Personally, for a single or small family unit for carrying on a larger structure, i wouldn’t aim lower than 400sqft/37sqmeters, as this would provide living space, and a hobby space which could grow into a business.
                I did specify steel as the form material because it is cheap, a very small crane can place large sections, and it leaves open the possibility of making inexpensive custom ones on the maker seastead. I expect you to keep backup stock of easily breakable or expendable/consumeable printer parts, but neglect rebar costs as this should be the same for printing and pouring cement. But keep in mind that there’s currently no demand for a seastead, so if you got even oneorder, you could build it in your spare time, which you will have plenty of on your seastead, so i wouldn’t count labor for printed vs poured either.

                  I am still liking the idea of Ocean’s: using the cement as a thin protective layer, because it can be sprayed on even easier than troweling on, altho a trowel is many many times cheaper.

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                  Maybe Ramazam can come up with some “cost evaluation” of 3D printing a seastead….He said he’s got the KNOW HOW:

                  “I am good at building my own 3D Printer, (RepRap Prusa). The best is to build it on our own. So to cutt of to much need to any country. Conzentrate the KnowHow to build it. Ive heard about an guy who is trying to Print his house in Holland.
                  Just my opinion. I am new here.”


                  Dear Friends,

                  on the frontpage of seasteading.org there is an picture of nice city.
                  Ive sean in a Video that they gave an order to an design company to design the city.

                  But what is with the design itself. Who is the owner of it ? And more important is, is the company hands out the 3D Design Files.

                  If they have an 3D file from an famous Design tool, it is possible to print it.

                  To The Seasteading Institute guys: Do you have the 3D File of the City, i want to print it in small size and i will publish the pictures of it here.

                  Imagine you have a Plattform, lets call this Plattform SeasteadMaker. On this Plattform there is a huge printer, you put in other plattforms then the Printer prints youre small house on that Plattform. And yes the size of that plattform should be variable.

                  The good thing on the RepRap Prusa technology is, the Elektronik and Software stuff is able to print any size of things. Its just the Hardware which is limiting the size of that objekt what you want to Print (Bars and Threaded Bars).

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