Researchers at the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Guwahati have manufactured 3D printed urban furniture utilising construction material made from local industrial waste. They have also developed cementitious mix compositions, amenable for 3D printing. The innovation is expected to reduce concrete use by 75 per cent.
The 3D printer has been jointly manufactured by IIT Guwahati and Deltasys E Forming and is capable of printing components up to 1 m long, 1 m wide, and 1 m tall. The concrete printer completed the cycle for the urban furniture in nearly 20 minutes.
The researchers used specially-developed printable concrete containing industrial waste as binders to manufacture 3D printed furniture. The printing piece has dimensions of 0.4 m of height, 0.4 m of width, and arched-shaped support modelled and sliced using SolidWorks and Simplify3D, respectively.
The complete unit was printed layer by layer at a speed of 80 mm/s with a height of 100 mm. After the unit's print, it was wrapped with moist gunny bags for seven days to cure before bringing to use.
Concrete 3D printing is gaining momentum in the construction and building industries. This development has showcased the production of material-efficient structures in a lab-scale 3D printer and can potentially bring about a paradigm shift in the industry.
Traditionally, these constructions were mould casted, which required additional concrete, labour, and formwork preparation. On the contrary 3D concrete printing allows for the creation of optimum designs without the need for mould and with 75 per cent reduced use of concrete.
IIT Guwahati director TG Sitharam ascertained that 3D printing of concrete could be a technological solution for reducing carbon footprint in the construction and building industries. He said, "From Indian context, techno-economic analysis must be carried out that take into account not only the environmental sustainability but also aspects relating to cost, quality, labour, and maintenance associated with 3D printing," reported NDTV.
The researchers' team strives to design high-performance concrete mixes made from industrial wastes for printing such complex structures. The team aims to explore underwater concrete printing and the possibility of printing functional reinforced concrete using low carbon materials. Also, the team believes that the on-demand, on-site 3D concrete will have a global impact on versatile construction applications and multi-billion-dollar markets worldwide.
The future careers will be marshalled into the design, automation, servicing, and maintenance of digital systems.