The US Patent and Trademark Office has recently issued two individuals from Illinois a patent for their novel design of a new 3D printable Modular Assembly Shelter (MASh) kit. Unlike conventionally assembled woodwork shelter framing, the MASh kit does not require any previous woodwork experience or specialty skills, and can be constructed in a relatively short space of time.
The inventors Justine Yu, an architect, and Tanner Wood, an engineering technician, both work for the Engineer Research and Development Center (ERDC), a US government research facility affiliated with the US Army Corps of Engineers. Their patented design is intended to aid in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic and other humanitarian disaster situations, potentially providing a quick fix to the lack of space in healthcare facilities and aid shelters around the world.
The MASh kit
According to the patent document, the MASh kit does not require any power tools or machinery to assemble, and can be erected by a single individual. A single kit pack provides enough shelter for one person, but multiple kits can be combined to house a group of people, as the kits are designed to be modular.
The kit comprises vertical corner posts, horizontal wall beams, and a series of corner caps. The horizontal beams have slots that hold interior and exterior wall panels. The posts and beams are designed to fit together with ease, and are secured by caps on top. Due to the lack of screws and bolts, the structure can be disassembled and reassembled in another location or configuration without much hassle. Users also have the option to clip furniture like desks and beds to the vertical posts, as there are slots for these too. The various components of the MASh kit can all be 3D printed as and when needed using the design files provided with the kit.
The patent document explains, “The on-site manufacture of standardized and modular construction components as disclosed herein can greatly decrease logistics, design and contracting time, resulting in increased efficiencies for military and disaster relief operations.”
3D printing and construction
The MASh kit is unique in that it does not rely on a large-format concrete printer to accomplish its goal, while most 3D printing initiatives involved with construction do. Twente AM, a Dutch start-up focused on architectural 3D printing, recently unveiled its latest large-scale concrete 3D printer at a trade show in Dubai. The 9-axis robotic arm of the printer is capable of fabricating structures in a workspace of 391m³. Elsewhere, in Austria, Graz University of Technology is working on a project to investigate the resource efficiency of using concrete with 3D printing, with the aim of eventually implementing the technology into buildings.
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Featured image shows MASh kit assembly – exploded view. Image via Justine Yu and Tanner Wood.