Stars and Stripes – Texas National Guard unveils first 3D printed military barracks at U.S. base

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The Texas National Guard on Monday unveiled a new barracks at Camp Swift, Texas, built using 3D printing technology. The barracks can house up to 72 soldiers and costs about a third the price of a traditional barracks, officials said. (Rose L. Thayer / Stars and Stripes)

CAMP SWIFT, Texas – Members of the Texas National Guard will be the first military personnel to sleep in barracks built using 3D printing at a training base near Bastrop.

The 3,800-square-foot building was constructed in less than a year at one-third the cost of traditionally-built barracks, and it will soon house up to 72 Guardsmen at a time, Major General Tracy said. Norris, adjutant general of the Texas Military Department.

“It’s rapid deployment, flexibility, affordability and durability,” she said at a groundbreaking ceremony Monday morning, speaking alongside Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, and Evan Loomis, the founder and CEO of ICON, the company that built the barracks.

Neither the National Guard nor ICON would say what it cost to build the barracks. However, the guard said Monday that a 7,200 square foot barracks built with traditional construction methods at Camp Bowie cost around $ 3 million to design, collect tenders and build.

A 3D printer uses a digital design to deposit thin layers of material over and over again until it forms a physical object. In this case, a massive printer laid down layers and layers of concrete to create walls on a concrete slab which were then filled with insulation to form the barracks building.

Camp Swift’s bay-style structure, complete with shared bathrooms and showers, carried the horizontal lines created by the massive machine that methodically imprinted the building between December 10 and April 2. ICON topped the structure with a roof in May, and officials claimed it was the largest 3D printed structure in North America.

Senator John Cornyn spoke with the leadership of the Texas Military Department on Monday about a new barracks at Camp Swift, Texas, which was built using 3D printing.
Senator John Cornyn spoke with the leadership of the Texas Military Department on Monday about a new barracks at Camp Swift, Texas, which was built using 3D printing. (Rose L. Thayer / Stars and Stripes)

“Giving our soldiers a safe and secure place to rest at night is part of military readiness,” said Cornyn. “We have old equipment and we need to replace it with newer, more modern and more efficient facilities. This technology that ICON has demonstrated here will provide our military with the ability to quickly build resilient and energy efficient structures, while saving taxpayer dollars. “

The senator said he would like to see how technology could evolve to build larger facilities and potentially long-term housing on military bases where facilities are outdated or overcrowded.

The new Camp Swift barracks will be used for troops visiting the base for training.

The Texas National Guard on Monday unveiled a new barracks at Camp Swift, Texas, built using 3D printing technology.  The barracks can house up to 72 soldiers and costs about a third the price of a traditional barracks, officials said.
The Texas National Guard on Monday unveiled a new barracks at Camp Swift, Texas, built using 3D printing technology. The barracks can house up to 72 soldiers and costs about a third the price of a traditional barracks, officials said. (Rose L. Thayer / Stars and Stripes)

The building materials and design of the building make it much more able to withstand the elements and less likely to succumb to some of the conditions seen in traditional barrack buildings, such as mold, Loomis said.

“One of the wonderful opportunities you have when you design something in the digital world and deliver it with technology is that you can control the dimensions, you can control the materials, you can control the walls. and internal structures. ” he said. “A lot of the problems associated with mold, water intrusion, or poor air quality are simply due to poor design. When you can control the design digitally, you can provide superior structure.

The Texas National Guard plans to build more 3D printed barracks at Camp Swift, Camp Bowie, Camp Maxey and potentially Camp Mabry, where the guard is based in Austin, Norris said.

Loomis didn’t offer an exact lifespan for the building, but he said concrete had been used in construction for thousands of years. The company’s oldest building was built in 2018. The concrete used for the barracks is ICON’s proprietary blend that is adjusted via on-board computers that monitor weather conditions while printing the structure.

Rose Thayer



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