news | 5 April 2022

Defense Innovation Unit and U.S. Army's Installation Management Command Begin Construction of Three 3D-Printed Barracks at Ft Bliss

Concept render of 3D-printed barracks at Ft. Bliss
Concept render of 3D-printed barracks at Ft. Bliss (Courtesy of Logan Architecture)

Barracks will be the first to use the new Unified Facilities Criteria paving the way for new building technologies for construction

April 5, 2022 (Mountain View, CA)—The Defense Innovation Unit (DIU) is partnering with the U.S. Army’s Installation Management Command (IMCOM), with continued support from the U.S. Army Engineer Research and Development Center (ERDC), to continue DIU’s Construction Scale Additive Manufacturing (CSAM) project by building three 3D-printed barracks using ICON’s Vulcan construction system at Ft. Bliss, TX.

At more than 5,700 square feet each, these barracks will each be the largest 3D-printed structures in the Western Hemisphere. They will also be the first 3D-printed structures that comply with the DoD’s newly-released Unified Facilities Criteria (UFC) for additive concrete construction, which provides guidance for DoD construction. This change to UFC by the Structural Discipline Working Group furthers to enhance technology transition led by ERDC and DIU to leverage commercial innovation and incorporate novel, time-saving manufacturing methods within the DoD. The construction of these innovative barracks is an effort to demonstrate how 3D printing can be utilized to quickly build more energy-efficient and resilient buildings at greater speed and lower cost than traditional methods.

Vehicle Hide Structure 3D-printed by ICON and the USMC at Camp Pendleton (Courtesy of ICON)

Vehicle Hide Structure 3D-printed by ICON and the USMC at Camp Pendleton (Courtesy of ICON)

Previously, as part of the CSAM project, DIU partnered with the U.S. Marine Corps (USMC) Systems Command to prototype ICON’s construction process for expeditionary use. Initial efforts focused on the technology’s suitability as an expeditionary solution to enable additively manufactured facilities in forward-deployed locations  to reduce the time, cost, and risk of construction in support of overseas contingency operations. During the initial demonstration, ICON and USMC soldiers 3D-printed a vehicle hide structure at Camp Pendleton in 2020.  Following this demonstration, DIU partnered with ICON to build a larger, more mobile, and more robust printer.

“This project supports all three Army priorities: people, readiness and modernization,” said Lt. Gen. Doug Gabram, Commanding General of United States Army Installation Management Command. “Constructing facilities using this cutting edge technology saves labor costs, reduces planning time and increases the speed of construction of future facilities. We are looking at other ways to use this innovative technique for rapid construction of other types of facilities beyond barracks.”

In 2021, the Texas Military Department partnered with ICON to design and 3D print an innovative training barracks at the Camp Swift Training Center in Bastrop, TX. As the largest 3D-printed structure in North America, the 3,800 sq.-ft. Building can house up to 72 soldiers while they train for missions. This effort utilized robotic construction-scale technology and advanced materials to deliver military barracks at increased speeds compared to traditional construction and to replace temporary barracks and structures that have exceeded their intended lifespan with more energy-efficient permanent structures that reduce overall lifecycle costs.

“Currently there is a multi-billion dollar backlog of housing and this impacts those serving our country,” said Brendan O’Donoghue, VP of Public Sector at ICON. “We are proud to collaborate with the U.S. Army and continue our partnership with DIU to see diverse use cases for ICON’s technology and to deliver resilient, comfortable 3D-printed barracks for soldiers at Ft. Bliss.”

DIU’s CSAM project will continue to explore the unique application of additive concrete construction for the military in expeditionary environments, while leveraging this partnership to facilitate the transition of the new prototyped printer to DoD partners.