Researchers at Loughborough University have developed an innovative new concrete printing process that is said to be capable of producing large scale building components with a degree of customisation that has not yet been seen.
The novel process relies on a highly controlled extrusion of cement based mortar, which is precisely positioned according to computer data. The researchers believe the process has the potential to create architecture that is more unique in form and claim it could create a new era of architecture that is adapted to the environment and fully integrated with engineering function.
"The research here at Loughborough University gives us tremendous opportunities," said Xavier De Kestelier, associate partner at Foster+Partners. "We are able to have a little peak into the future, to see what would construction will be like in the next five to ten years."
Professor Simon Austin, co-investigator at Loughborough University added: "We have shown how additive manufacturing can be developed to create large structures, such as panels and walls, with precisely controlled voids within them."
The 3D Concrete Printing (3DCP) project was funded by the EPSRC through the Innovative Manufacturing and Construction Research Centre at Loughborough University.
The researchers are currently moving the system from a 3-axis gantry to a 7-axis robotic arm in order to maximise the printing quality, speed and size. They are confident that the technology will have a bright future in the construction industry.