A team from the Digital Building Technologies (DBT) department at ETH Zurich and renewable insulation company FenX have developed a 3D-printed foam alternative to concrete.
The material is made from recycled waste and can be printed in a variety of shapes that are lighter and have better insulation properties than conventional concrete.
DBT says its prototype follows the geometry of a 2m by 1.3m ribbed slab with point supports in each corner, with the foam following lines that mimic the principal stress pattern.
The prototype requires 24 formwork elements in 12 unique shapes.
After installation, the foam can be reused in similar applications or recycled.
The foam itself is printed using a robotic arm, then placed manually in the fibre-reinforced concrete.
Following a curing period, the timber formwork is removed from the prototype, and the structural building element is completed.
The team says this fabrication approach could significantly impact the responsible and sustainable consumption of resources and energy in the building industry.
It adds that the foam allows for the manufacture of geometrically complex elements that were previously unfeasible and wasteful to produce.
Image: Digital Building Technologies/Patrick Bedarf
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