Feb.26, 2014

Additive manufacturing constantly opens up new application fields in architecture. Now architect Philippe Morel from Studio EZCT Architecture & Design Research in Paris is using 3D printed sand molds to create ultra high-strength concrete.

Ultra-high-performance concrete (UHPC) is a new type of concrete and is characterized by being a steel fibre-reinforced cement composite material that is six to eight times stronger than conventional concrete, and also much lighter. Its high density structure also provides excellent material quality with no pores and micro tears.

Part of Morel's research is to look for light and filigree concrete structures that will provide a completely new level of design freedom in architecture in the future.

"We needed a quick and cost-effective process for manufacturing molds for UHPC casting. Currently the only economic alternative for our research is to print sand molds on the voxeljet machines using 3D printing technology," says Morel.

German 3D printer company voxeljet printed a total of 130 sand mold halves for the concrete casting using an example of a spectacular UHPC exhibit at an architecture trade fair in the FRAC Centre in Orléans.

After printing, the inside and outside of the various halves were infiltrated with epoxy resin and subsequently glued together to create a very fine concrete structure. This process was followed by casting using ultra-high performance concrete, and the assembly of the individual parts.

Morel only partially removed the sand molds from the part to demonstrate how the complex UHPC structure was created. He believes in the future it would be possible to 3D print structures using ultra-high performance concrete as material. According to voxeljet, its development departments have been doing reseach on 3D printing concrete for some time.

Posted in 3D Printing Applications


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