New 3-D printing project creates 'concrete 2.0'
- Researchers at Eindhoven University of Technology (TU/e) in the Netherlands have developed a new concrete printer that 3DPrint.com called "show-stopping and massive." The crane-like concrete printer, built by Dutch company ROHACO, has a swiveling printer head and concrete mixing-pump unit, and can produce concrete prints as large as approximately 36 feet long, 16 feet wide and 13 feet high.
- TU/e has secured nearly $720,000 in private and university funding for a long-term study that will investigate what kinds of concrete products the printer will be able to produce, with a focus on walls printed with wireless sensors and fine, detailed structures not possible via traditional concrete formwork, according to a TU/e statement.
- Theo Salet, professor of concrete structures at TU/e, and PhD student Rob Wolfs head up the research team and expect the first concrete products made from the printer to be available within five years. "I tend to call it 'concrete 2.0,'" Salet said.
One challenge the researchers face is creating prints with enough bearing capacity to support one or more layers of concrete prints placed on top.
The team also has plans have in mind to create a way to print a single, multi-layer wall that can be fiber-reinforced and insulated with a dirt-repelling layer on the outside and acoustical layer on the inside, all according to the specifications of individual users.
This printer is the latest in a line of 3-D technology that has teased the construction industry with a promise of practical application and mass production. With 3-D printers being used for concrete, housing, hotels, office buildings and even satellites in outer space, innovators are looking for ways the construction industry might one day benefit from the new technology.
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