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Know About 3D Printed Concrete

Updated: Jun 8, 2022

It's no surprise that firms are looking into adopting 3D printing in building now that 3D printing devices are readily available for domestic usage. Concrete 3D printers, in particular, have been steadily gaining favor among architects and construction companies. Despite their beginnings, these are projected to provide housing solutions to the 1.2 billion people worldwide who do not have access to safe and cheap homes.

This article will cover 3D-printed concrete, its uses, processes, advantages, limitations, and some examples of structures that have been constructed with it so far.

Fig 1: A 3D Printing model in construction Courtesy: 3D Printing Industry
Fig 1: A 3D Printing model in construction Courtesy: 3D Printing Industry

What is 3D Printed Concrete?

3D printed concrete is a type of concrete that may be placed layer by layer using a 3D printer without formwork or a vibration process. The foundations of 3D printed concrete house constructions are layering, with each layer deposited on top of a previous layer of pumped concrete. This process is repeated until the desired structure appears.

The concrete mix contains the same materials as regular concrete mixes: water, cement, and aggregates such as sand or stone. The texture and consistency of the dish are crucial to its success. Pressure buildup, which can block the nozzle or harm the printing equipment, is less likely with a working consistency. As a result, the consistency is retained comparable to that of aerated dough for construction purposes. Workability, setting and hardening time, and mechanical qualities are just a few critical performance indicators that can be improved with the right materials and printing parameters.

How are Structures Built with it?

A typical concrete 3D printer uses a robotic arm with one end attached to the printhead and the other to a gantry or crane-like robotic arm system to additively create things through material extrusion. This printer deposits materials like concrete layer by layer through a nozzle.

Concrete must lose a large portion of its flexibility to maintain the printed shape shortly after printing. On the other hand, concrete should not solidify too quickly to allow layers to cling to one another. If the layers are stacked on top of one another with no strong connections between them, the structure will be weak and have no tensile strength. This means that we won't be able to utilise regular concrete in 3D printing. Instead, a special type of concrete will be required.

What are the Advantages of 3D Printed Concrete?

3D Printed Concrete offers many advantages, some of which are:

● Environment Friendly

The manufacturing of regular Portland cement results in considerable carbon dioxide emissions and other greenhouse gases. The cement sector is responsible for around 8% of all carbon dioxide emissions in the atmosphere. In such a case, limestone can be used as limestone is less toxic and has a lower environmental impact than Portland cement throughout the manufacturing process. It can be used in concrete for 3D printing instead of standard Portland cement without lowering the quality of the printing mixture.

● Budget-friendly in the long run

3D printing incurs additional carriage and assembly costs that the customer must bear during off-site construction. The cost savings of on-site 3D printing are much more likely to be passed on to the new homeowner because the construction company can maintain a healthy profit margin despite the overall cost reduction. Also, it is interesting to note that 3D printing is being used by aviation companies such as Boeing, Rolls Royce, and Pratt & Whitney to create metal parts, mostly for jet engines. It can be less expensive than machining metal blocks, and the complicated components are often lighter than their traditional counterparts.