Union Minister for Communications, Electronics and Information Technology Ashwini Vaishnaw recently inaugurated India’s first 3-D printed post office at Cambridge Layout in the city. The unique structure was constructed in a record time of just 43 days. Speaking on the occasion, the Union Minister said, “Bengaluru city always presents a new picture of India.” He also called it ‘the spirit of India’ with which our country is progressing today.
Union Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw virtually inaugurated the post office, constructed by Larsen & Toubro Limited with technological support from IIT Madras. The construction was carried out under the guidance of Professor Manu Santhanam, Building Technology and Construction Management Division, Department of Civil Engineering.
The post office covers a built-up area of 1,021 sq ft. Its construction was carried out using 3D concrete printing technology which is a fully automated building construction technology wherein a robotic printer deposits the concrete layer by layer as per the approved design, and special grade concrete – which hardens quickly – is used to ensure bonding between the layers for the purpose of printing the structure. George Abraham, head of operations (south and east), L&T, explained, “It is because of the robotic intervention that involves pre-embedded designs, that we were able to complete the entire construction activity in a period of 43 days as compared to about 6-8 months taken by conventional method.”
The construction cost Rs 23 lakh, an estimated 30-40 per cent less than conventional method.
Elaborating on the critical requirements for concrete 3D printing, Prof Santhanam stated, “The project primarily involves machines and robots which are indigenous, but needs to be scaled up in the coming days. The special concrete material used for this project provides pumpability, extrudability, buildability and is powered with mechanical properties.”
IIT Madras and L&T conducted several meetings in the run-up to the construction of the post office. Prof Ravindra Gettu from IIT-M was involved as a primary advisor who guided the comparability of the proposed 3D-printed technology with conventional construction. He also assessed the detailed techno-commercial proposal by L&T.
Professors Meher Prasad and Pradeep Pratapa from IIT-M overlooked the assessment of material and structural design, construction methodology and schedule and approval of design and construction concepts.
The project has no vertical joints and it involved continuous printing of the full perimeter. The 3-D printing technology was actually imported from Denmark for the post office project.
Rajendra Kumar, Chief Postmaster General of Karnataka Circle highlighted the low-cost construction options using 3D printing technology. Low-cost housing would be their secondary interest along with plans to construct post offices across 400 vacant sites across the state, where postal services are not accessible.