Manufacturing Snapshot Of The Week: 3D Printer Breaks The Mold For Concrete

It’s capable of producing an object up to 11 meters long, 5 meters wide and 4 meters high.

Mnet 41619 Snapshot Of The Week B 1

A new 3D printer produced by Dutch company Rohaco is changing the way concrete can be used in building projects.

The machine itself — housed at the Eindhoven University of Technology (TU/e) in the Netherlands — is equipped with a swivel printer head and a concrete mixing and pump kit. It’s capable of producing an object up to 11 meters long, 5 meters wide and 4 meters high.

Unconstrained by molds and concrete pouring, the new 3D printer can create more precise concrete pieces and can vary the materials within the structures. For example, the printer could inlay fiber reinforcement, an insulation layer or wireless sensors without requiring an extra process.

“I tend to call it ‘concrete 2.0’,” says Theo Salet, the university’s professor of concrete studies.

Researchers at TU/e are tasked with translating this technology into safer, more efficient industrial production. But before they can fully explore the possibilities, researchers have one hurdle to overcome: developing a concrete that is sturdy enough to not collapse under the weight of the next layer while it’s still wet enough to bond.

The TU/e project — expected to last five years — comes with about $720,000 in funding from the university and 10 other participating companies.

Do you think 3D printed concrete will improve building safety? What other potential applications do you see? Comment below or tweet @MNetKatie.

Image credit: Rien Meulma/Eindhoven University of Technology. 

More