Singapore-based construction 3D printing company Hamilton Labs has dedicated a portion of its work to the development and production of sanitation systems—such as household and community toilets—to improve public health in India. The company’s work, a response to the Indian government’s Swachh Bharat Mission (which translates to “Clean India Mission”), is now being taken to the next level with the launch of an entry level, gantry-based concrete 3D printer.
Described as a “no frills” machine, the construction 3D printer was designed to build low cost toilets to be deployed in India. In fact, the printer, measuring 2 x 2 x 2 m, comes pre-installed with one movement—to build the Hamilton Labs’ toilet (though this movement can be changed). “For our own intents and purposes for SBM, that movement is the building block for the assembly of the toilet set,” explained Willy Ng from Hamilton Labs.
“We want out entry level model to be as standardized as possible, as user friendly as possible, as mobile as possible, as low cost as possible,” Ng added. “With our collaborators, we’re designing a ‘cartridge’ to enable the consistent supply of the printing material, the extrudable mortar/concrete. Just plug-play-pour. We want to remove the hurdles to rapid adoption of construction 3D printing, starting from the basics of ease-of-use, cheap-to-use.”
The construction 3D printer can also be upgraded or customized to add further functionalities. As Hamilton Labs says, the pre-programmed movement of the 3D printer can be changed remotely from the Hamilton Labs’ hub in Singapore. Users can also opt to have additional command and control functions integrated into the machine if more in situ flexibility is required.
Hamilton Labs was founded in 2017 with the express goal of disrupting the construction market with 3D printing. Its mandate has also been notable for its environmental and socially conscious angle, as the Singapore-based company has made it a priority to tackle issues—such as sanitation in India—with its technologies.
For this endeavour, Hamilton Labs partnered with Indian 3D printing and rapid prototyping service Morphedo. “We are very excited about the collaboration with Hamilton Labs to bring construction 3D printing to India, starting with creating social impact, by 3D printing SBM’s toilets,” said Sushil, the CEO of Morphedo. Together, the companies will also begin to explore the potential of 3D printing to create single-story, affordable housing.
The 3D printed toilets to be deployed in India were designed by Hamilton Labs with 3D printing and easy assembly in mind. The toilet components themselves are printed and can be shipped to rural areas in India that are lacking in sanitation infrastructure. Once delivered, communities can assemble the toilet units easily by following step-by-step instructions.
“Our strategy for construction 3D printing in the building and construction space is to move towards how Henry Ford industrialized the automobile industry,” Ng told us. “That’s the main reason for our entry level concrete 3D printer; so that the assembly line technique of mass production can be deployed. And, SBM’s objectives are a perfect platform and testbed.”
As mentioned, this project is being carried out as part of the SBM initiative, which itself was launched in 2014. Today, it is India’s largest cleanliness drive and consists of participation from over three million government employees and students. The ultimate goal of the cleanliness campaign is to eliminate open defecation to make Indian communities cleaner and safer places to live.