Texas Military Department opens 3D-printed barracks

The 3,800 square-foot structure, which is the largest 3D-printed structure in North America, cost one third as much as traditional facilities to build and is expected to last for decades.

The Texas Military Department (TMD) plans to house up to 72 Texas National Guard members in a newly constructed 3D-printed barracks.

Working with Austin-based construction company ICON and AFWERX, the Air Force’s innovation incubator, TMD designed and built the first “innovative training barracks” at the Camp Swift Training Center in Bastrop, Texas.

By 3D printing the 3,800 square-foot bay-style building, TMD delivered the barracks faster and at one-third the cost of traditional construction methods. The barracks, which will be fitted with communal bathrooms and showers, will be the largest 3D-printed structure in North America and is expected to last for decades.

Designed by Logan Architecture and structurally engineered by Fort Structures, the barracks were printed using ICON’s Vulcan construction system between December 2020 and April 2021. Ordinarily, 3D printing uses a digitally-generated design to manufacture thin layers of material that are stacked on top of each other, eventually forming a physical object. Here, a construction-scale printer deposited streams of polymer concrete to create the foundation and walls of the barracks.

The end product is said to be capable of withstanding extreme weather conditions including natural disasters. In addition, the structure will be more sustainable than conventional construction material and resilient to more common issues such as mold or water intrusions, ICON Co-Founder Evan Loomis said.

The Texas National Guard plans to build more 3D-printed barracks at Camp Swift and around the state, including ones in Camp Bowie, Camp Maxey and potentially Camp Mabry, TMD Maj. Gen. Tracy Norris told Stars and Stripes.

The 3D-printed facilities may also be deployed in forward locations for expeditionary forces, where the technology can potentially reduce time, cost and construction risks, TMD officials said.

This article first appeared on GCN, a Defense Systems partner site.