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Printing roads

The different ways of fabricating things, more or less automatically, continues to grow.  I’ve written before about DIY CNC machines, both real, LEGO, and sugar based (actually I haven’t written about the sugar one before, but I will, because it’s cool).  There are printers that print billboard sized sheets, printers that print electronic circuits and displays, fabrics, chips, and probably lots more.

Recently I ran across a video of printing on a much wider, thicker, and heavier scale:  A machine that prints roadsTiger Stone is a Dutch company that has developed a machine that lays down brick roads at what appears to be a rate of 1 row, 6 meters wide, in about 15 seconds, or about 300m^2 per day (their WWW page is in Dutch, but if you use Google Chrome it can translate to English on the fly).  The machine is pretty simple once you see it: It spans the full width of the road, and has a hopper into which loaders dump bricks.

A few workers pick the bricks out of the hopper and place them on the top of a ramp in the desired pattern.  With the appropriate bricks they are able to create any sort of pattern desired, including edging, stripes, etc..  As the machine creeps forward the bricks slide down the ramp to be deposited in the prepared roadbed. The machine is electrically operated, and automatically follows the curbs, which must be placed first.

Presumably the machine can follow curves if the workers place the right pattern of bricks in the hopper, although this isn’t shown in the video.

Dutch paver’s unions are heralding the new machine, but reportedly Dutch chiropractors are not as thrilled.

Steve Ravet

Design News Gadgeteer.

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