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MIT researchers have designed a system that can 3-D print the basic structure of an entire building. The system consists of a tracked vehicle that carries a large industrial robotic arm, which has a smaller, precision-motion robotic arm at its end.  Photo: Steven Keating, Julian Leland, Levi Cai, and Neri Oxman/Mediated Matter Group

This new MIT robot can 3D print an entire building

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This new MIT robot can 3D print an entire building

WATCH | It's 2017. All kinds of things have been 3D printed: prosthetic hands, whatever's on your phone screen, shoes, a bus. But a new MIT robot might have taken things to the next level.

It can print an entire building.

The robot, detailed in an April 26 article in Science Robotics, consists of a vehicle with a giant robotic arm. At the end of that arm is a smaller one for precise motions that can spray insulation or extrude concrete. The robot built a dome 50 feet wide and 12 feet high in 14 hours, CNET reported.

System can 3-D print an entire building

WATCH | Here's the building-making robot in action. 

We also wanted to show that we could build something tomorrow that could be used right away.
Stephen Keating

The goal of the system is to create a system that could make buildings "for years" in environments too harsh for human construction, like Antarctica or Mars, lead author Stephen Keating said. 

So to me it's not merely a printer, but an entirely new way of thinking about making.
Stephen Keating

The MIT team calls the system a "digital construction platform." Keating said he wanted to challenge standard construction procedures and let environmental data determine the building process. To that end, the platform can be customized based on the materials being poured. 

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