3D Printing: The Future of Concrete Structures

If you thought 3D printing was reserved for scientists who spend their time generating miniature, plastic duplicates of everyday objects – then you’re wrong. At this moment in time, given all the recent leaps forward in the field, 3D printing’s potential is beginning to look limitless as it begins to permeate a further sphere of activity: architecture.

Yes, that’s right, concrete is now a material which can be generated by a 3D printer, opening up a whole new world of possibilities in the field of architecture. So, acknowledging this, this month, EKA Concrete will explore this brand new technology in more depth, offering a rough sketch of what the future might hold for the concrete industry.

Super fast construction

Over in San Francisco, a startup known as Apis Cor has recently demonstrated that it can generate through printing the concrete walls for a small house in under 24 hours. Sounds too good to be true, right? Wrong. On a test site in Russia, Apis Cor used a 3D printer to lay down the concrete walls of a 400m2 home. That said, workers had to manually paint the building, install roofing material, wiring and thermal insulation. However, it’s fair to see that that is a small price to pay for a home that’s erected in 24 hours!

The printer, as you can imagine, is huge. At a glance, it looks like a giant crane with a tube running along its arm and no cabin. Placed at the centre of the building site, the printer surgically places layers of concrete as instructed until the basic structure is complete.

Durability and affordability

Apis Cor themselves claim that the particular concrete mix used can last up to 175 years, and that the whole house cost around £10,000 to make, most of which was taking into account the doors and windows. Consequently, these small, practical homes will certainly be affordable.

What’s more, Apis Cor suggest that these sorts of speedily-erected homes could prove invaluable in areas where natural disasters are likely to strike. That is, in the case of an earthquake, hundreds of homes could be built in a matter of days to help re-house the affected civilians. Also, in areas where housing crises have had a profound impact, these 3D printed homes could also prove to be a useful solution.

Impossibly complex structures

Since the concrete layer, in this scenario, has intricate algorithms and a precision needle guiding the construction process rather simple hand-eye coordination, 3D concrete printers are be able to produce some truly incredible structures. A group of masters students named Amalgamma have delivered on that promise, creating avant-garde household furniture with extremely complex patterns. For example, an asymmetric table with weaving, perfectly realised layers.

Here at EKA Concrete we specialise in the supply of high quality concrete for a huge range of applications in both the domestic and commercial sectors. To find out more, or get a free quote, simply give us a call today.