HP construction robot prints site plans directly on the ground
The exterior of the printer consists of a sturdy body on three wheels. It runs on two rechargeable batteries, each providing up to four hours of print time. At the top are some basic buttons (one of which is probably an emergency stop, given that it’s red) as well as a Topcon layout navigator for visibility and obstacle avoidance.
Inside is the printer itself, which is designed to work with a “portfolio of inks for different surfaces, environmental conditions and durability requirements”. Inks vary in longevity, with some lasting a few days for quicker jobs and others fading after several months for more intricate jobs. SitePrint can print layouts on a variety of porous and non-porous surfaces, including plywood, vinyl, tarmac, and concrete, even when those surfaces contain bumps or obstacles up to two centimeters thick. In addition to lines separating, say, a kitchen from a bedroom, the robot can print text, arcs, and site checkpoints, all of which are essential to avoid confusion (and time-consuming retouching).
SitePrint is said to work 10 times faster than a human specialist. Like any other technology designed to complement or replace human labor, HP’s robot printer, whether the brand likes it or not, has obvious employment implications. But HP says SitePrint can work side-by-side with humans.
“Layout experts are a scarce resource that add a lot of value in terms of planning and strategy, but often end up spending most of their time on manual execution,” the company said. said. “HP SitePrint allows us to do more with less, reducing lead times with a much faster layout process and allowing senior operators to focus on other critical activities such as quality control.”
Someone must make SitePrint work. Despite the robot’s ability to print autonomously, it still has to be told what to do via its accompanying touchscreen tablet, which can be used for both setup and remote control. HP plans to launch the robot this month through an early access program, in which case its real impact might be a little clearer.