A Russian firm has announced commencement on the world's largest 3D construction printer, capable of printing an entire six-story building before you can say "regulatory compliance". The S–500 is the work of the AMT-SPETSAVIA group in Russia.
The company's press release is a little hard to follow, but we gather a "standard" six-story S–500, if standard is the word, can operate in a volume of 11.5 x 11.0 x 15.0 m (or 37.7 x 36.1 x 49.2 ft). However, its makers say it's possible to extend the last dimension to 80 m (263 ft).
The firm simultaneously announced the S–300, capable of operating in a mere 11.5 x 11.0 x 5.4 m volume (that's 37.7 x 36.1 x 17.7 in feet). This equates to a maximum two-story building on a 120 sq m (1,292 sq ft) plot, its makers say.
We're joining the dots here, but since that 10 sq m plot is roughly what you get from the first two dimensions – the difference between the two models is height, and it's the height that can be extended to 80 m with the S–500. That being the case, were you to allow 3 m (10 ft) per story, the extended S–500 would be able to print a 26-story building – firmly into skyscraper territory.
However – just because it's capable of operating on this scale, that's not necessarily to say it's capable of building a sound structure.
Back on surer ground, the company says the machines can print at a rate of 2.5 cubic meters of concrete (88 cubic feet) per hour.
"We've always been asked for a solution for multi-story construction," General Director Alexander Maslov said in the press release. "Now we declare with confidence that such a solution exists! During the development we've taken into account the wishes of the developing companies, at the same time maintaining the inherent reliability of our equipment, ease of management and maintenance."
The first printer is due to ship later this year.
We've followed the progress of 3D-printed construction with interest. It's interesting to see the technology move beyond small architectural novelties like tiny houses, to single-story office complexes and to now what appears to be significant-scale commercial construction.
We're following up with AMT-SPETSAVIA to try to clarify a few points and will update this story if we can shed any more light.
Update (July 18, 2018): AMT-SPETSAVIA's Alexander Lobanov got back to us, confirming most of our suspicions.
"S-500 may have the printing area up to 31 by 11 meters (102 x 36 ft) perimeter and up to 80 meters (262 ft) in height," he says, which is a larger printing area than given in the press release. "The printer prints the non-removable framework, so we still need the steel beams and we still need concrete pouring with ready-mixed concrete in the printed cavities. Nevertheless, this is still a very powerful decision, especially for non-rectangular cases. And we have some technical decisions dealing with the steel structures, though they are not installed by the printer itself."
So, rather than being a one-stop building shop, these printers work alongside conventional building methods.