Czech company prints 3D anti-tank barriers for the Ukrainian army

Resistant to small arms, grenades and anti-tank missiles, the anti-tank barriers produced by the Czech company ICE Industrial Services were tested at a ballistic center and meet various NATO standards.

Tomas Vranek |  Photo: CT

3D printing is not the first activity of the company led by Tomáš Vránek, which designs and builds new machines and automation lines for, among others, the automotive industry: even so, in recent years, it has sought to diversify by exploring the possibilities of concrete 3D printing. , a technology in vogue in many startups in the country. An investment of around CZK 50 million in technology, which the company claims, makes it possible to create raw structures up to five times faster and save up to 70% of material compared to classic formwork. Parts printed on concrete are hollow and can have various shapes.

The war in Ukraine was a trigger for the company, which decided to put its know-how to good use. Jiří Vambera is responsible for the company’s innovation:

3D printing of concrete anti-tank barriers |  Photo: CT

“Barriers have different shapes that can be combined with each other. The total process begins with material preparation. After transporting the material, we started by laying down the layers with our robot. We print the desired shapes, which have several cavities that can be filled with sand once the barriers reach their final destination. We can produce a basic shape in about 20 minutes, so it’s possible to print 20-30 a day. »

20 minutes, then, just to print a one meter high barrier. After printing, the concrete must still dry and is ready to be transported the next day. The printing machine can be easily programmed to any other shape or thickness. The company produces different types of barriers depending on the type of missiles it must be able to resist.

The material itself only reaches full strength after about 20 days, but it can provide some protection just a few days after being printed, explains Jiří Vambera.

“On the second day, the barriers already have a resistance of around 25%, which allows their movement. And after a week, the resistance is 80%, so it is possible to carry them for a longer distance. In theory they could be printed on site, but considering the material I think it makes sense to run the printer in a safe area away from the battlefield. On the other hand, it makes no sense to send concrete to Ukraine across Europe. »

3D printing of concrete anti-tank barriers |  Photo: CT

Barriers can be stacked on top of each other or placed side by side like building blocks.

In addition to building them and delivering them to Ukraine, the Moravian company, which employs 170 people, also hopes to ship 3D printers to this war-torn country and train Ukrainians in their use. A few concrete factories, neither too close nor too far from the front lines, could contribute to the war effort by producing this new type of anti-tank barrier.

3D printing of a house |  Photo: Daniela Brychtová, ČRo

Finally, as businessman Tomáš Vránek points out, the barriers are just a first step, with the next step being participation in the reconstruction of buildings destroyed by Russian bombing. One of the original plans of the company ICE Industrial Services was to print entire houses using this 3D technology, which could be used to reclaim the country: “There are countless destroyed buildings there and there will certainly not be enough capacity to rebuild them all. Machines can help build new homes. Finally, as the barricades are modular, they can be dismantled and used to build utility buildings.”explained Tomáš Vránek recently to the Czech press.

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