TU Eindhoven readies massive 3D concrete printer

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TU Eindhoven's 3D concrete printer (Photo: TU Eindhoven/Rien Meulman)TU Eindhoven's 3D concrete printer (Photo: TU Eindhoven/Rien Meulman)

Last month the Technical University Eindhoven started running test with a massive 3D concrete printer. The university will be working with the construction industry to develop and print concrete products, such as complete walls printed with all the necessary features from the start.

TU Eindhoven made this announcement on their website on Thursday.

The concrete printer was built by Dutch company ROHACO. It can print objects of up to 11 meters long, 5 meters wide and 4 meters high. The concrete printer is the first of its kind and dimensions in the Netherlands and the third in the world. According to the university, it "looks a bit like an overhead hoisting crane a production hall", but with a swivel printer head for concrete instead of a hoisting cable. A concrete mixing and pump unit is attached to the printer with a hose.

TU/e professor of concrete structures Theo Salet and PhD student Rob Wolfs are convinced that this concrete printer will open up a world of new possibilities. Such as printing all kinds, colors and qualities of concrete in a single product, Printing smart components, such as wireless sensors, exactly where you need them. And making very fine and intricate concrete structures.

The example the university used is printing a complete wall equipped with all the requisite functionality - such as fiber reinforcement for strength, insulation to retain heat, dirt-repellent concrete on the outside to keep it clean and a layer inside to enhance acoustics. "Builders can also easily incorporate the individual requirements of users in the production process.

All that is needed is new knowledge, techniques and materials. Hence this research project - 3D Concrete Printing, or 3DCP. The research project will run for a number of years and cost some 650 thousand euros. The funding comes from ten participating companies and TU/e.