3D-Printing Tech Offers Material Reduction


A first-of-its kind 3D concrete printed bridge is currently on display in Venice, Italy, and “establishes a new language for concrete that is digital, environmentally advanced and circular by design.”

The project, titled “Striatus,” was unveiled in July and is designed by Block Research Group and Zaha Hadid Architects, in collaboration with 3D concrete printer incremental3D and made possible by building materials company Holcim.

The arched bridge is reportedly constructed from 53 hollow blocks, each printed from 500 layers of concrete, which are held in place through compression without any reinforcement. This method reduces the amount of materials used while still maintaining strength.

“Striatus was designed by some of the best architectural and creative minds in their fields. It demonstrates the infinite possibilities of 3D Concrete Printing to enable more sustainable, faster and effective building structures, without compromise on aesthetics and functionality,” said Jan Jenisch, CEO of Holcim. “Its digital and circular design uses concrete at its best, with minimal material use and blocks that can be repeatedly reassembled and infinitely recycled.”

It also utilizes a custom-made ink from Holcim’s TectorPrint range for 3D printing. Holcim reports the ink contributes to its green building solutions, from its ECOPact green concrete to its ECOPlanet green cement, including recycled construction and demolition waste.

The team reports that Striatus’s technology also utilizes the “reduce, reuse, recycle” method:

  • Reduce: designed with minimal material use for maximum strength with no waste;
  • Reuse: all components are designed to be disassembled and reused; and
  • Recycle: all components can be easily recycled, with limited energy and cost. The recycling process is simple and cost-efficient as no materials sorting is needed, due to the absence of reinforcements, glue or binders.

“3D concrete printing can reduce up to 70% of materials with no compromise on aesthetics or performance,” said Jenisch in an interview with Dezeen. “It opens up an infinite range of possibilities to build more with less, from complex infrastructure projects to affordable housing.”

Striatus is open to the public in the Marinaressa Gardens during the Venice Architecture Biennal in the “Time Space Existence” exhibition hosted by the European Cultural Center (ECC) until November 2021.

“The name ‘Striatus’ reflects the bridge’s structural logic and fabrication process,” said Philippe Block, Co-Director of the Block Research Group in a press release. “In arched and vaulted structures, material is placed such that forces can travel to the supports in pure compression.

“Strength is created through geometry, using a fraction of the materials used in conventional concrete beams. This, furthermore, opens a breadth of opportunities to build with lower-strength and in a more ecologically friendly way.”

Other 3D-Printing Concrete Projects

Construction was reportedly underway in April for what is being dubbed as the world’s longest 3D-printed pedestrian concrete bridge. The “Bridge Project” is being co-commissioned by the Dutch Directorate-General for Public Works and Water Management (Rijkswaterstaat), Eindhoven University of Technology (TU/e) and designer Michiel van der Kley.

“Most concrete constructions are being made with the aid of molds,” the designer wrote on his website. “The molds are not only expensive, but they are also partly responsible for a bigger uniformity.”

However, molds are not used in 3D printing methods and are instead built by stacking materials layer by layer. Additionally, 3D printing allows objects to be constructed piece by piece and then assembled. Both of these elements of 3D printing create vast opportunities to add variety to structures.

More recenly, in October, a team of engineers from Oklahoma State University were reported to have successfully 3D-printed a concrete wall. The project, led by OSU professor Tyler Ley, was conducted over a period of three years and involved 150 university students.

In looking at all the aspects and building materials involved in residential construction, Ley and the team decided to focus on walls because they are typically the most expensive and hardest to build. Concrete walls can also better protect inhabitants from natural disasters, such as tornados and fires, as well as pests.


Tagged categories: 3D printing; 3D Printing; Asia Pacific; Bridges; Bridges; Building materials; concrete; EMEA (Europe, Middle East and Africa); Environmental Controls; Environmentally friendly; Latin America; North America; Program/Project Management; Research and development; Z-Continents

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