Berkeley researchers develop 3D-printable concrete powder

The technique allows teams to create more complex and precisely finished structures, with reduced weight and waste.

March 16, 2015 |
Berkeley researchers develop 3D-printable concrete powder

A team from the university constructed the Bloom pavilion out of the 3D-printed material, which will go on tour around the world. Screenshot from UC Berkeley Campus Life on Youtube.

A team of UC Berkeley researchers led by Associate Professor of Architecture Ronald Rael pioneered a technique to print cement-based materials, Gizmag reports.

What differentiates this technique from other applications of 3D printing in architecture, such as the multifamily project done in China, is that the technique Rael and his team developed prints out dry, powdered cement instead of wet cement. This allows users to create more complex and precisely finished structures, with reduced weight and waste.

 

 

"We are mixing polymers with cement and fibers to produce very strong, lightweight, high-resolution parts on readily available equipment; It’s a very precise, yet frugal technique," Rael told Gizmag. "This project is the genesis of a realistic, marketable process with the potential to transform the way we think about building a structure."

To test the material, the researchers built the Bloom pavilion. The technology they developed has the capacity to construct up to 30 blocks per day, which means a structure like the Bloom pavilion can be completed in 28 days. The researchers’ first attempt took one year, which includes designing the parts, testing, building the printers, and other fine-tuning processes.

According to UC Berkeley, the architecture will be disassembled and shipped to SRI in Thailand, where it will be exhibited and remain on display for several months before traveling to various locations around the world.

Read more on Gizmag.

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