Real Estate and Construction

What is Concrete 3D Printing?

Shriya Sarang

29th Nov'22
What is Concrete 3D Printing? | OpenGrowth

The construction industry adopted 3D concrete printing technology as a result of the rise of 3D printing to create buildings and construction projects like wells, wind turbines, fireplaces, walls, staircases, and a variety of other architectural features. Concrete 3D printing is becoming more and more popular every day.

A vast variety of buildings can be made with 3D printing. Among these are the first 3D-printed homes in Germany as well as the Austin, Texas, homes of ICON and Lake Flato. Large machines are used in this printing process, which extrudes cement-based materials from a huge nozzle. In order to create the required architectural piece, these 3D Printers are frequently designed as gantries or robotic arms that continuously extrude a dough-like material layer by layer.

The material used during the concrete 3D printing process is not really concrete. Traditional concrete jams the printer nozzle and does not adhere to the layers properly, making it unsuitable for 3D printing. However, the concrete specifically used for 3D printing has the same components as regular concrete, including water, cement, sand, and stone, but it has a look and feels of an aerated dough.

Apis Cor, COBOD, ICON, WASP, Winsun, Emerging Objects, and numerous other companies now reap the benefits of 3D printing, despite the fact that employees still need additional education and training. Over the next ten years, 3D printing is expected to become widely used, despite the fact that the industry is still in its infancy. In actuality, 3D printing for construction offers a substitute, fundamentally altering how we develop and design.


3D printed concrete: what is it?


3d concrete


Simply defined, 3D-printed concrete is concrete that has been specially mixed to easily flow through the printing machine's nozzle. The foundation of 3D-printed concrete constructions is layering, with each layer being put on top of a prior layer of pumped concrete. Until the preferred structure appears, this method is repeated.

With 3DCP, there is no longer a requirement to cast concrete into molds or support structures. It is a considerably speedier and less expensive alternative to traditional construction methods because the curing time of such concrete can be as little as three days, and full construction can be built in only a few hours.


Water, cement, and aggregates like sand or stone make up the constituents of the concrete mix, which are the same as those used in other concrete combinations. The texture and quality of the dish itself determine how well it turns out. A manageable consistency reduces the possibility of pressure development that could obstruct the nozzle or harm the printing apparatus. As a result, the consistency is retained close to that of aerated dough for construction purposes.


Due to its reliance on traditional building methods that require formwork, the construction industry is responsible for nearly 80% of all waste produced globally. Due to the lack of a framework needed during construction, 3D concrete printing uses fewer resources than conventional methods.

Additionally, the procedure eliminates the need for heavy labor, and it allows for the rapid creation of intricate geometric structures. It's safe to claim that 3D concrete printing has the ability to build anything from bridges to homes to apartment buildings to even barracks in active combat zones. Read this guide to know if you are ready to buy a house.


Advantages OF 3DCP


When compared to traditional techniques, 3DCP has a lot of benefits.


1. Customization


Because 3DCP may be utilized to precisely construct elaborate or asymmetrical patterns, architects and builders can simply add originality and innovation to their projects. Extruded surfaces and a variety of shapes may be produced quickly and with little likelihood of human error. This is a result of the material being deposited precisely using cutting-edge machinery.

Modern concrete mixtures that incorporate foam exhibit thermal mass properties similar to those of conventional concrete. The adoption of 3DCP for mass production may be made practical in the future with similar breakthroughs in concrete mix formulas.


2. Advanced Safety


With 21% of all deaths each year, the construction business ranks ninth among risky professions in the United States. Automated construction using 3DCP technology eliminates the need for physical labor on construction sites. Therefore, risky tasks that have an impact on the on-site safety of construction workers, like working at heights, can be completely eliminated from the construction process.


3. Affordability


Castings and frameworks are practically unnecessary with 3DCP because it does not call for the manual filling of molds by employees, as is the case with previous methods. By operating at a steady rate and lowering the amount of concrete needed, contractors may also make sure they stay within their budget by saving money on time, materials, and labor. These elements work together to make 3DCP economical.

Because it can be built quickly, 3DCP is a good option for creating accommodations during emergencies like natural disasters. In addition to increasing the resilience of 3D-printed concrete structures, the creation of hardened cement paste that is resistant to cracking makes them perfect for large-scale rehabilitation projects.


4. Environment-friendly


By doing away with the need for a framework, 3D concrete reduces the number of raw materials that would otherwise be wasted. A precise and specific amount of cement is deposited at a time by the printer needed for 3DCP, reducing CO2 emissions and, ultimately our carbon footprint. This may encourage the sector to adopt sustainable, environmentally friendly practices.


Constraints of 3DCP


1. Obstacles in Law


The current limitations of the legal framework governing 3DCP constructions have led to uncertainty regarding the duties and rights of owners, builders, and manufacturers.

The rules need to be improved in areas including safety, social repercussions, the impact on the job market, and environmental effects. From a legal perspective, it is currently unexplored territory.


2. Not fit for environment


Because of how concrete hydrates, it reacts in unstable ways at higher temperatures. This is a challenge when pumping concrete in even layers during inclement weather or periods of severe heat. For instance, 3DCP samples tested in deserts have produced less favourable results.

But because Dubai wants to build 25% of all its structures using 3DCP by 2030, it is working hard to find better formulas.


3. Equipment Size Limitation


Printers for 3DCP must be sizable, ideally bigger than the project being built. This can necessitate the requirement for specially manufactured printing equipment made for the project.

The testing phase for 3DCP technology is still ongoing, and many prototypes of formulations, tools, and procedures are being evaluated. Making automated machinery is an expensive investment because the equipment is the most expensive part of any 3DCP project. As a result, 3DCP is more appropriate for smaller projects at this time since larger structures using this technology are not currently a viable alternative.


The Conclusion


The art of construction hasn't altered much since the Theatre de Marcellus was built, and it still holds true for New York's famous high-rise cityscape. Structures are currently built using traditional methods like manual labor, formwork, and standard construction materials.

However, there has been a noticeable change in the way building is done as a result of technical improvements in automation. In response to 3D automated equipment, disruptive technologies are gradually entering the construction sector. Although still in their infancy, these devices are anticipated to provide 1.2 billion people throughout the world who lack access to safe and affordable housing with housing alternatives.


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Writing has been my natural get-away and peace-place. Eventually, I have been drawn to the depths of the world of writing with numerous topics which have fascinated me through time like -
- Business and Finance
- Professional Communication and Skill Development

Through writing, I hope to find the bigger and better purpose of our lives beyond the work-life bitter banter and truly feel worth living in every breath.


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