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Large-scale 3D printing of ultra-high performance concrete – a new processing route for architects and builders


In the present paper a new additive manufacturing processing route is introduced for ultra-high performance concrete. Interdisciplinary work involving materials science, computation, robotics, architecture and design resulted in the development of an innovative way of 3D printing cementitious materials. The 3D printing process involved is based on a FDM-like technique, in the sense that a material is deposited layer by layer through an extrusion printhead mounted on a 6-axis robotic arm. The mechanical properties of 3D printed materials are assessed. The proposed technology succeeds in solving many of the problems that can be found in the literature. Most notably, this process allows the production of 3D large-scale complex geometries, without the use of temporary supports, as opposed to 2.5D examples found in the literature for concrete 3D printing. Architectural cases of application are used as examples in order to demonstrate the potentialities of the technology. Two structural elements were produced and constitute some of the largest 3D printed concrete parts available until now. Multi-functionality was enabled for both structural elements by taking advantage of the complex geometry which can be achieved using our technology for large-scale additive manufacturing.