$1.13M is awarded by the US Air Force for retrofitting of construction using 3D printing.

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Branch Technology Secures $1.13 Million Contract from US Air Force for Game-Changing Retrofitting Solution

Chattanooga-based additive construction firm, Branch Technology, has been awarded a groundbreaking $1.13 million contract by the US Air Force. The contract, bestowed by the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) and AFWERX, the Department of the Air Force’s technology accelerator program, is a major endorsement of Branch’s proprietary Cellular Fabrication (C-Fab) technology.

Branch’s C-Fab technology involves the printing of latticework in composite materials for architectural components. These components are then finished with conventional building materials, such as spray insulation and concrete, to create a fully functioning structure. Its unique approach to construction caught the attention of AFRL and AFWERX, who selected Branch to develop a 3D printed retrofit system for exterior walls. This system has the potential to revolutionize the way buildings are retrofitted and significantly enhance energy efficiency.

The contract comes at an opportune time for Branch, which recently launched a pilot program in collaboration with the Chattanooga city government and other partners. The program aimed to use C-Fab to 3D print shelters for the unhoused population in Chattanooga. The success of the program has already resulted in two residents moving into permanent housing, reducing the unhoused population in the city and creating space for new residents.

The funds granted to Branch by AFRL and AFWERX were made possible through a joint Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR)/Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) Direct-to-Phase II process. This process, initiated by the Air Force in 2018, accelerates contract execution and streamlines the funding process for innovative technologies.

David Goodloe, the program development manager for Branch, expressed his excitement about the collaboration with the Air Force, stating, “The Air Force has been an incredible innovation partner. Their commitment to sponsoring and transitioning game-changing technologies is unparalleled in my experience working with the government. We are excited to develop a new capability that will improve the performance of the Air Force’s built environment, reduce its operational carbon footprint, and test capabilities for integrated force protection.”

Goodloe highlighted the pressing need for retrofitting existing buildings to address the global challenge of carbon emissions. He explained that retrofitting is a more viable and cost-effective solution compared to new construction projects. The project aims to develop and demonstrate a fully scalable and customizable 3D printed retrofit panel system, tailored to the geometry of existing buildings. The ultimate goal is to enhance energy efficiency and reduce carbon emissions.

Branch plans to showcase its innovation on a building at Kirtland Air Force Base in Albuquerque, New Mexico in 2024. The success of this project could potentially pave the way for similar initiatives within the military and beyond.

The 3D printing industry is constantly searching for the next “killer app,” and retrofitting has the potential to be just that. With the increasing competition in the industry, it is crucial to cultivate niche market segments that can leverage the benefits of 3D printing on a large scale. Branch Technology, with its C-Fab technology, is well-positioned to lead the way in retrofitting solutions, especially considering the advantages of tailoring architectural pieces to the existing geometry of buildings.

In addition to its potential for revolutionizing construction practices, retrofitting holds great promise in achieving sustainability goals. This aligns perfectly with the involvement of government entities in supporting and developing capabilities for such projects.

Branch Technology’s latest contract win is not only a significant milestone for the company but also a testament to the transformative impact of their innovative approach to construction. With a focus on retrofitting and sustainability, Branch is poised to become a driving force in the future of construction, both within the military and beyond.

For more news and updates from the 3D printing industry, as well as information and offers from third-party vendors, stay connected with us.

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