Chartered Institute of Building Magazine of the Chartered Institute of Building
CM NEWSLETTER

Concrete ‘printing' opens up new possibilities

Architect Foster and Partners and engineer Buro Happold are collaborating with scientists at Loughborough University to commercialise a technique known as concrete printing which could free architects from the restraints of current construction methods.

The Loughborough team, led by Dr Richard Buswell and Professor Simon Austin from the University’s School of Civil and Building Engineering, has made dramatic progress with additive manufacturing technologies, where models created on-screen can be formed into three-dimensional components at full scale.

Conventionally, concrete is poured into temporary formwork – an efficient method of moulding if the shapes are straight, simple and the variations minimised.  Introduce curves and complexity, and the expense rapidly increases.

In the Freeform Construction project, a special type of concrete is deposited very precisely under computer control, layer by layer, from a 3D computer-aided-design (CAD) model.  Using this technology, very complex sections of buildings can be created without the high cost penalties associated with traditional methods.

Speaking about the project Buswell said: “Using Freeform every section of a building could be unique if necessary – produced by calling up a new design on-screen and setting the process to work.  Components could be created with ready-made internal voids and ducts for services, and with shapes that made the most of their insulating properties.  Because each piece would be tailor-made, there would be virtually no waste.  The possibilities are endless; it is a very exciting project.”

The research team has now obtained technology-transfer funding from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) to commercialise the process, collaborating with Foster + Partners, Buro Happold and Hyundai Engineering & Construction.

Colin McKinnon, innovation director at Buro Happold, said: “Through our involvement in the project we will help the research team assess the design, manufacturing and commercial potential of this innovative technology.”

Xavier De Kestelier, associate partner, at architects Foster + Partners added: “This project gives us tremendous opportunities to see what construction technology will be like in the next five or 10 years.’’

Comments

We make stairs. I am doing research on 3d printing of staircases. It would-be be interesting to print shapes that can be filled later with concrete when it is placed in a building.
Let me know what you think.
cca@houtcomfort.be

  • 4th Sep 2014, at 08:15 AM
  • Cabergs Chris

Leave a comment

News

27 April 2017 How's that! New stand set to wow crowds this summer at Lord's

27 April 2017 A new look for Construction Manager

27 April 2017 Heathrow boss reveals major offsite plans

27 April 2017 H&S inspectors down by a quarter since 2010

27 April 2017 Bouygues to trial trailblazing 3D technology

25 April 2017 The solution: Morgan Sindall goes round the bend in Slough

25 April 2017 In pictures: Crossrail's striking station ceilings

25 April 2017 Emoji are a sign of the times on Dutch building

25 April 2017 O'Rourke appoints first independent chairman

25 April 2017 Multiplex on hiring spree after bumper 2016

25 April 2017 Contractor fined for Francis Crick Institute fatality

25 April 2017 New housing group to build 1,200 homes a year

25 April 2017 HSE consults on independent FFI dispute process

24 April 2017 New CIOB MD seeks to strengthen links with grass roots

24 April 2017 Schools paying thousands for work under PFI deal

24 April 2017 Skanska races to develop concrete robots

24 April 2017 Pair fined £66k each for roof safety breaches

24 April 2017 SNC-Lavalin agrees £2bn Atkins takeover

20 April 2017 Pay strike threatens Hinkley point construction

20 April 2017 CITB to launch offsite training courses