Printing concrete elements for construction has major advantages compared to traditional production techniques.
- People have more freedom in designing and realizing constructive solutions. Unlike traditional production techniques, an object does not have to be made from a solid piece of material.
- It is a sustainable solution. A 3D printer only applies material where necessary. This means that less concrete is needed and therefore less CO2 emissions.
- There is less waste because no formwork is required and no milling is required.
- The entire production process runs better and faster and the margin of error decreases. During the process, all parties study the same design. Changes are calculated digitally and are immediately visible to all involved, even before actual production.
Not every mortar is suitable for this production process. A fast chemically reacting mortar leads to instant stiffness, which is a problem when there are stagnations or failures during the process. A mortar that reacts too slowly, on the other hand, slows down the production process, because the mortar cannot be loaded quickly. A balance between stiffness and energy was sought in the development of the right printable mortar.
Concrete is characterized by absorbing gigantic pressure loads. However, the tensile load is limited. Traditional masonry and concrete structure buildings are designed to primarily use the strength of concrete and minimize its weakness. Although 3D printing offers more architectural freedom, it will always have to go hand in hand with the properties of concrete. The balance between construction shapes, mortar properties and reinforcement is therefore of great importance to achieve architectural freedom.