Concrete 3D printing is gaining momentum in the building and construction industries.
Recent developments in this field such as 3D printed modular houses, pedestrian footbridges, office buildings, public schools, low-cost toilet units have the potential to initiate a paradigm change in the practice of construction.
The IIT-G research group used a specially-developed printable concrete containing industrial wastes as binders to build 3D printed furniture with a seating height of 0.4 m, a width of 0.4 m, and arch-shaped support that was modelled and sliced using SolidWorks and Simplify3D, respectively.
The entire unit was printed layer by layer at an 80 mm/s speed, with each layer having a 10 mm height. After the unit was printed, it was covered by moist gunny bags for 7 days to cure before being used.
Traditionally, these structures were mold casted which requires more concrete material, labour, and formwork preparation.
However, with 3D concrete printing, optimised designs are printed with 75 per cent less concrete and without the need of mold.
“We showcased how material-efficient structures can be produced in our lab scale 3D printer. Our goal is to design high performance concrete mixes made from industrial wastes for printing of such complex structures,” Dr. Biranchi Panda, Department of Mechanical Engineering , said in a statement.
The team is now exploring underwater concrete printing and the possibility of printing functional reinforced concrete using low carbon materials.
“3D printing of concrete can be a technological solution for reducing carbon footprint in the building and construction industry,” Prof. T. G. Sitharam, Director, IIT-G said.
“From the Indian context, techno-economic analysis must be carried out that takes into account not only the environmental sustainability but also aspects relating to cost, quality, labour, and maintenance associated with 3D printing,” Sitharam added.
The research team believes that the on-demand, on-site 3D concrete printing will definitely have a global impact on versatile construction applications and multi-billion-dollar markets worldwide.
The future jobs will be marshalled into design, automation, servicing, and maintenance of the digital systems.
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