Design-for-manufacture of 3D concrete printed structural composites (DfM:3DCP)

Lead Research Organisation: Loughborough University
Department Name: Architecture, Building and Civil Eng

Abstract

The development and modernisation of UK infrastructure requires the ubiquitous use of concrete, but conventional casting methods are inefficient, inflexible and dangerous. The UK Industrial Strategy White Paper identifies that the UK has insufficient skilled labour to undertake the next 10 to 20 years of essential infrastructure development, to deliver the £600Bn National Infrastructure and Construction Pipeline. Hence, the development of world-leadership in automation of key parts of the construction supply chain is critical.

3DCP removes the need for conventional moulds or formwork, by precisely placing and solidifying specific volumes of cementitious material in sequential layers under a computer controlled positioning process. This represents a radical 'mould-breaking' change, that challenges the implicit mind-sets of architects and engineers, where for millennia casting has required moulds, which in turn constrain the form, geometry and variety of building components and systems. 3DCP technology implicitly binds design and manufacture in contrast to current practice where designers and constructors are separated organisationally, institutionally and professionally. 3DCP is creating worldwide interest from the construction sector and lends itself to using readily available robotic arms as positioning tools for clever material deposition devices, which enable the manufacture of components to be digitally driven.

However the required pull into commercialisation requires architects and engineers to engage their clients with designs suitable for the manufacturing process. However the underlying science as it relates to concrete composite materials simply does not exist. This project will be the first in the world to systematically investigate the interrelationships between rheology, process control, design geometry and reinforcement design in relation to there impact on the hardened properties of the final material. The project goes further and makes the first steps towards encoding the rules learnt into a software environment that will seed the development of new design software in the future.

Planned Impact

The project will create new, world leading knowledge in the areas of:

- parametric relations of material rheology and production parameters with resulting microstructure and topology of 3DCP;
- more sustainable mixes and admixtures for use in 3DCP;
- microstructural characteristics and topology of 3DCP;
- automation and robotic control of construction operations;
- mechanical performance of structural composites and the implications for design; and,
- prediction and modelling of structural composite materials.

It will produce and make available through open access:
- a comprehensive material properties data set for 3DCP with & without reinforcement; and,
- design tool codes for structural composites manufactured using 3DCP.

It will demonstrate a proof of concept of the design-through-manufacture process that includes the analysis and design of structural composite elements delivered in a report that explains the implications for the adoption of 3DCP for stakeholder in the supply chain. Additional workshop will be used to disseminate findings, as well as a planned exposition of the project at The concrete Show in 2021.

The project partners come together to form an industrial liaison group that builds on existing relationships and brings new collaborations which sit across construction, automation, materials, manufacturing, standards and certification, and design. These world leading organisations provide the dialogue through which the project findings can be refined for greatest relevance and impact.
 
Description 3DCP:DfM 
Organisation ABB Group
Country Switzerland 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution These partners are collaborating on the project and the outcome and know-how developed on the project has been transferred into these organisations through partner meetings and workshops.
Collaborator Contribution Engagement with the design process in particular developing concepts developing new designs generating structural designs that we can then run and test. Contributing free materials for our printing and giving access to specialist software.
Impact None as yet
Start Year 2020
 
Description 3DCP:DfM 
Organisation Autodesk
Country United States 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution These partners are collaborating on the project and the outcome and know-how developed on the project has been transferred into these organisations through partner meetings and workshops.
Collaborator Contribution Engagement with the design process in particular developing concepts developing new designs generating structural designs that we can then run and test. Contributing free materials for our printing and giving access to specialist software.
Impact None as yet
Start Year 2020
 
Description 3DCP:DfM 
Organisation British Standards Institute (BSI Group)
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Charity/Non Profit 
PI Contribution These partners are collaborating on the project and the outcome and know-how developed on the project has been transferred into these organisations through partner meetings and workshops.
Collaborator Contribution Engagement with the design process in particular developing concepts developing new designs generating structural designs that we can then run and test. Contributing free materials for our printing and giving access to specialist software.
Impact None as yet
Start Year 2020
 
Description 3DCP:DfM 
Organisation Building Research Establishment
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution These partners are collaborating on the project and the outcome and know-how developed on the project has been transferred into these organisations through partner meetings and workshops.
Collaborator Contribution Engagement with the design process in particular developing concepts developing new designs generating structural designs that we can then run and test. Contributing free materials for our printing and giving access to specialist software.
Impact None as yet
Start Year 2020
 
Description 3DCP:DfM 
Organisation Cundall
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution These partners are collaborating on the project and the outcome and know-how developed on the project has been transferred into these organisations through partner meetings and workshops.
Collaborator Contribution Engagement with the design process in particular developing concepts developing new designs generating structural designs that we can then run and test. Contributing free materials for our printing and giving access to specialist software.
Impact None as yet
Start Year 2020
 
Description 3DCP:DfM 
Organisation Elkem AS
Country Norway 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution These partners are collaborating on the project and the outcome and know-how developed on the project has been transferred into these organisations through partner meetings and workshops.
Collaborator Contribution Engagement with the design process in particular developing concepts developing new designs generating structural designs that we can then run and test. Contributing free materials for our printing and giving access to specialist software.
Impact None as yet
Start Year 2020
 
Description 3DCP:DfM 
Organisation Foster and Partners
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution These partners are collaborating on the project and the outcome and know-how developed on the project has been transferred into these organisations through partner meetings and workshops.
Collaborator Contribution Engagement with the design process in particular developing concepts developing new designs generating structural designs that we can then run and test. Contributing free materials for our printing and giving access to specialist software.
Impact None as yet
Start Year 2020
 
Description 3DCP:DfM 
Organisation Manufacturing Technology Centre (MTC)
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution These partners are collaborating on the project and the outcome and know-how developed on the project has been transferred into these organisations through partner meetings and workshops.
Collaborator Contribution Engagement with the design process in particular developing concepts developing new designs generating structural designs that we can then run and test. Contributing free materials for our printing and giving access to specialist software.
Impact None as yet
Start Year 2020
 
Description 3DCP:DfM 
Organisation Skanska UK Ltd
Department Cementation Skanska
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution These partners are collaborating on the project and the outcome and know-how developed on the project has been transferred into these organisations through partner meetings and workshops.
Collaborator Contribution Engagement with the design process in particular developing concepts developing new designs generating structural designs that we can then run and test. Contributing free materials for our printing and giving access to specialist software.
Impact None as yet
Start Year 2020
 
Description 3DCP:DfM 
Organisation The French Institute of Science and Technology for Transport, Development and Networks
Country France 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution These partners are collaborating on the project and the outcome and know-how developed on the project has been transferred into these organisations through partner meetings and workshops.
Collaborator Contribution Engagement with the design process in particular developing concepts developing new designs generating structural designs that we can then run and test. Contributing free materials for our printing and giving access to specialist software.
Impact None as yet
Start Year 2020
 
Description 3DCP House building Hackathon 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Study participants or study members
Results and Impact Part of the 3-D printing student competition organised by Lafarge, presentation rose awareness and help educate student teams from around the world. The competition had about 14 teams from International backgrounds including the US Australia Singapore and across Europe. Active promotion of the technology the work that's undertaken in the UK to the next generation of research and technology enthusiasts in the field.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2020
URL https://www.lafargeholcim.com/first-3d-printing-hackathon-witteveen-bos
 
Description British precast week presentation 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact This was a presentation engagement activity with industry through British Precast. This was informing and engaging the industry and potential manufacturing organisations with the potential of the new technology. As part of this we undertook marketing poll to gauge industrial awareness and the potential drivers for the technology from the manufacturing perspective. The insights gained were used to support arguments to take the technology forward and to improve its impact.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2020
URL https://www.precastweek.org/speakers
 
Description UK Concrete Society presentation 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact And invited presentation as part of concrete society, raising awareness of the research and the technology and the potential to influence construction. There were 80 academics industrialists and practitioners taking part and engaging and interaction questions followed presentation.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2020
URL https://eps.leeds.ac.uk/faculty-engineering-physical-sciences/news/article/5689/the-adam-neville-pri...