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Ultra-Lightweight Concrete for 3D printing technologies

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - Ultra-LightCon-3D (Ultra-Lightweight Concrete for 3D printing technologies)

Okres sprawozdawczy: 2019-07-01 do 2021-06-30

The construction industry does not follow the same enlightened path as other fields of science and has thus suffered a technology bypass, relying on centuries-old processes and procedures to manage complex modern projects. In conventional concrete construction projects, more than 60% of the total cost is spent on formwork and labor. One form of technology which could revolutionize our perception and approach to construction, is 3D printing of concrete. 3D printing, also referred to as Additive Manufacturing (AM), is a technology which builds solid parts via a layer-by-layer process. According to the European Parliament resolution on 3D printing, AM is viewed as “one of the most prominent technologies, with regard to which Europe can play a leading role”. EU places the development of AM for construction, in the top 10 future application areas.
Ultra-LightCon-3D was a joint academic/industrial training initiative supporting the convergence of additive manufacturing, concrete technology and engineering. The main goal was to develop a new generation of concrete insulating material towards production of a 3D printable energy saving construction, in accordance with the EU Energy Efficiency Strategy and EU’s Strategic Energy Technology (SET) Plan, which puts emphasis on decreasing building envelope costs and energy consumption in residential buildings. Moreover, as a part of the training a set of activities towards improving the scientific, innovative and entrepreneurial skills of the Fellow were planned.
The overall objective of the proposal was to develop an ultra-lightweight concrete (ULWC) technology for 3D-printed walls, with ultra-high insulating properties. The goal of this investigation, was to establish a fundamental scientific understanding of the relations between design, material, process and the final product. As an outcome methodology towards development of insulating printable wall systems meeting the EU requirements was proposed. To achieve this goal an interdisciplinary methodology based on experimental and numerical methods in micro- and macro-scale technology was proposed. In the final stage the insulating printable wall system was proposed.
Overall, Ultra-LightCon-3D has progressed well and according to the original plan. In the first stage of the project, research related towards development of ultra-lightweight printable mixtures was performed, allowing to develop set of mixtures suitable to be used as a load-bearing element (core of the wall system). Moreover, an insulating (in-fill) materials with satisfactory low thermal conductivity characteristics were developed. In second stage of the project, a multi-scale tool allowing to evaluate the performances of the developed printable mixtures as well as to model potential insulating and mechanical characteristics of the wall system was developed. A methodology towards evaluation of the particular concrete characteristics and estimating (modelling) their potential microstructural characteristics such as solid and void contents, wall thickness, pore shape stability, buildability of the mixtures, pores anisotropy was developed. This in turn allowed to correlate the parameters towards developing a 3D concrete models. As an outcome, an evaluation (modelling) of the mechanical and insulating properties of wall system is possible, thus selected wall topologies (systems) can be tested.
In the last phase of the project, the tools developed in the previous project stages were applied towards development and optimization of a wall system together with an industrial partner (secondment). The work was proceeded with final large-scale printing (demonstrators) and verification of the developed technology. Through cooperation with Industrial Partner the most efficient economic, mechanical and insulating viable solution of wall system technology was developed to be used in further industrial (large-scale) applications. Parallelly, to the laboratory work, dissemination and exploitation activities were organized and implemented according to the original plan, including organization of workshops and for expert and non-expert audiences. Moreover, the obtained knowledge within this project was freely disseminated (publications, conferences, workshops), while selected data is used for further activities in order to tighten the Fellow-Host-Industrial Partner cooperation, thus to develop European Research Area (ERA).
As an outcome a printable insulating wall system has been developed along with a multi-scale tool, enabling the production of advanced ultra-lightweight and lightweight concretes for AM technologies. Thanks to the multi-scale tool the development of 3D printable wall system models with optimized economic, mechanical and insulating properties is possible without need of time- and resource-consuming laboratory works.
Ultra-LightCon-3D has contributed to improve the fundamental knowledge related to the production of light-weight printable cementitious composites as well as proposed new methodology towards evaluating the 3D printed concrete elements. The developed testing methodology allows to perform numerical simulations towards developing the most thermally efficient topology of printable wall systems. The developed technology has significant contribution to the development of high-thermal insulating building envelopes and has a contribution towards development of nearly Zero Energy Buildings (nZEB). The Ultra-LightCon-3D has been widely promoted in social media and gained public attention by press releases and recognition in various media related to sustainability and construction engineering.
Example of work performed under WP2 - Development of mixture together with industrial partner
Example of work performed under WP3 - Verification of multi-scale tool
Example of work performed under WP3 - Development of multi-scale tool
Example of work performed under WP2 - Testing process
Example of work performed under WP4 - Large-scale printing (model testing/verification)
Example of work performed under WP4 - Large-scale testing (evaluation of mechanical performance)
Example of work performed under WP4 - Large-scale testing (development and model verification)
Example of work performed under WP5 - Dissemination activities
Example of work performed under WP4 - Thermal evaluations (developing wall design)
Example of work performed under WP3/WP4 - Thermal simulations (mixture optimization)
Example of work performed under WP4 - Large-scale testing
Example of work performed under WP4 - Numerical evaluations (developing wall design)
Example of work performed under WP2 - 3D printing and testing process