Czech firm to provide Ukraine with 3D printed anti-tank barriers

ICE Industrial Services also prints houses

A Czech company has started to produce anti-tank barriers for the Ukrainian army made on a special, 3D printer. The firm is also considering providing Ukraine with the printers themselves, which would allow them to produce the barriers right on the spot.

ICE Industrial Services is a technology company based in the Moravian town of Žďár nad Sázavou, which focuses on designing and building new automation machines and lines. In recent years, it has also been exploring the possibilities of 3D printed concrete.

In view of the ongoing Russia’s war on Ukraine, the firm has decided to use their know-how to help Ukrainians directly on the war front by providing concrete anti-tank barriers made using a 3D printer.

Jiří Vambera is the company’s innovation designer:

“The barriers have several different shapes which can be combined together. The process starts with material preparation.

“After the transport of the material we start with the deposition of layers with our six-axis robot. We print the desired shapes, which have a number of hollow pockets that can be filled with sand once they arrive at the final destination.

“We can produce one basic shape in about 20 minutes, so it is possible to print around 20 to 30 a day.”

While the 3D printed barriers wouldn’t survive a heavy artillery attack, tests have shown that they are resistant against small arms and grenades, as well as anti-tank missiles and on-board machine guns.

The material itself reaches full strength only after around 20 days, but it can be provide some level of protection within just days of being printed, says Mr Vambera.

“On the second day, they already have around 25 percent strength, so they can be moved. And after one week, the strength is at 80 percent, so it is possible to transport them over a greater distance.

War in Ukraine | Photo: Alexej Alexandrow,  ČTK/AP

“In theory they could be printed on the battleground, but given the material and its strength development, I think it makes sense to operate the printer in a safe area near the battleground. It definitely doesn’t make sense to send the concrete to Ukraine across the whole of Europe.”

The first truck load of anti-tank barriers printed in the Czech Republic should be sent this week, says Mr Vambera:

“We expect one full truck of samples to be shipped to Ukraine this week. It depends on the development of the situation there.

“I think the truck will be loaded with around 20 pieces, with each one weighing around one tonne before it is filled with sand.

“We expect to receive some feedback from the Ukrainians so that we can adapt the modules for their specific needs but we are ready to send more.”

Thanks to their modular character, the 3D printed barriers can be stacked side by side and on top of each other, just like building blocks. According to Mr Vambera, they could eventually be used for building checkpoints or guard booths, but also for building simple housing units.

Author: Ruth Fraňková
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