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

01 December 2016 Project of the week: GSK's Phoenix from the ashes

01 December 2016 University estate spending grows by £2bn in a year

01 December 2016 Chinese to build Foster-designed World Cup stadium

01 December 2016 New 'mega' HA planning 50,000 homes

30 November 2016 'Hard' Brexit could leave industry short of 215,000 workers

29 November 2016 London affordable housing threshold set at 35%

29 November 2016 Mitie shows the way for workers with disability

29 November 2016 Architect designs pop-up football pitches

29 November 2016 Gove regrets scrapping schools rebuild programme

29 November 2016 McAlpine wins Big Ben restoration contract

29 November 2016 New firm offers snap-together homes above car parks

29 November 2016 Danish architect unveils 'vertical village' in Antwerp

28 November 2016 BREEAM and WELL healthy building standards to be aligned

28 November 2016 Build faster or lose planning permission, Javid tells house builders

28 November 2016 New construction chief for Gatwick Airport

28 November 2016 Zaha successor sets out radical housing solution

28 November 2016 Want to be part of our exciting plans?

28 November 2016 Pretax profit up as Willmott splits into three

28 November 2016 O'Rourke calls for construction GCSE and A-levels

27 November 2016 Autumn statement: The big takeways for construction plus reaction