Concrete/cement 3D printers have real potential to become a low-cost, fast-acting, solution in construction. Typically powered by a robotic arm, these large scale 3D printers are capable of working 24/7 with theoretically minimal manual input.
In many cases, the technology has been used to make buildings, as in Apis Cor’s 24 hour house, or work from California’s Contour Crafting.
Hamilton Labs, a company based in Singapore, is an emerging name in the area of 3D printing for construction – 3D Printing Industry met co-founder Willy Ng during a recent trip to Singapore. By applying atypical, 3D printing, robotic arms the company is aiming for an altogether more unusual, though no less familiar project: 3D printed toilets.
Calibration test of a HamilBot Mark I 3D printing arm provided by Yaskawa. Clip via Willy Ng on YouTube.
Though the idea may seem absurd to those of us living comfortably with a toilet at home, in the office and pretty much every other public space you can think of, toilet scarcity is a national problem in India, that has now been undertaken by the government.
According to Unicef, “Around 524 million people, which is nearly half the population of India, defecate in the open,” as result, there are a staggering amount of deaths related to poor sanitary conditions. People are now rallying to make India an open defecation free country by 2019.
In order to do this, the government has had to help fund the construction of over 100 million toilets across the nation. The latest figures show that so far almost 60 million have been built, and the initiative may need some help if it’s to meet its target by next year.
The HamilBot solution
Hamilton Labs is working in collaboration with the National University of Singapore Centre for Additive Manufacturing (AM.NUS) as a part of the city-state’s National Additive Manufacturing Innovation Cluster (NAMIC).
In a new agreement with India’s Center for Rural Information and Action (CRIA) Hamilton Labs will be providing a robot operated 3D printer to “build fast, beautiful and comfortable toilets,” for the Madhubani district in Bihar which sprawls Eastern and Northern India.
A cement based on recycled fly ash will be used as construction material for the toilet units. The project is expected to begin at the end of this month, following the delivery of Hamilton’s HamilBot Mark 1 3D printer.
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Featured image shows Hamilton Labs’ 3D printed toilet design. Image via Hamilton Labs