A professor of Applied Mechanics at the Eindhoven University of Technology in the Netherlands has developed a model for determining the dimensions and printing speeds needed to keep 3D printed concrete walls stable.
Construction 3D printing is an exciting area of additive manufacturing, but 3D printing with concrete-type materials doesn’t come without its problems. This is basically because 3D printed concrete is asked to do a lot more work than it is used to: while normal concrete deposited in formwork can harden over several weeks, 3D printed concrete needs to carry the burden of the next layer almost immediately after its deposition.
If you’re not involved in concrete 3D printing, you probably only ever see the magnificent finished structures: buildings, sculptures, and the like. What you probably don’t see is the large number of 3D printed wall structures that simply collapse under their own weight because of this problem. These concrete structures aren’t hardening at the point of deposition like a PLA 3D printed object; they’re soft and always precariously balancing, which means the slightest wobble can cause them to completely collapse.
Akke Suiker, a professor in Applied Mechanics at the Netherlands’ Eindhoven University of Technology, has come up with a clever solution to the problem of 3D printing concrete walls. His new model, which consists of a set of simple formulae, can be used to determine the dimensions and printing speeds needed to 3D print such walls without having them collapse. The professor thinks his model could soon become widely used in the industry.
The model ultimately lets 3D printer users know how quickly they can deposit printed layers of concrete, given the material curing characteristics and wall dimensions. It also allows users to calculate how to make the structure with as little material as possible, and what the influence of structural irregularities will be.