Researchers Assess the Use of 3D Printing Geo-Polymer Concrete

Share this Article

In the recently published ‘Life Cycle Assessment of 3D Printing Geo-polymer Concrete: An Ex-ante Study,’ authors Yue Yao, Mingming Hu, Francesco Di Maio, and Stefano Cucurachi examine the development of geo-polymers in concrete, and delve further into the use of 3D printing within the construction industry.

With the environment in mind, the authors are assessing the efficacy of using 3D printing and geo-polymers to replace conventional manufacturing methods with conventional materials like Portland cement. Environmental performance was evaluated through an ex-ante life cycle assessment (LCA), with manufacturer data used to pinpoint items for improvement and ‘scaled-up scenarios’ created in partnership with the company as the researchers looked into areas for improvement.

Contribution analysis on climate change.

Waste reduction is high on the list of benefits in terms of 3D printing in construction and with cement, and while geo-polymer could have even higher environmental impacts than ordinary concrete, the study shows that with multiple improvements, it could reduce the carbon footprint. The researchers were able to achieve this by lowering the amount of silicate in geo-polymer ‘recipes.’

Previous studies show that 3D printed buildings are higher in efficiency, lower in emissions, produce less waste, and consume less energy. Ex-ante LCA helps the researchers here evaluate the merits of fabricating a GP concrete object through inkjet 3D printing.

“Aiming at combining environmental management and technology development, in close-collaboration with technology developers, the study shows that ex-ante LCA can not only estimate the potential environmental impacts, but, more importantly, provide directions for the future deployment of 3DPG technology from the current lab-scale experiment,” state the researchers.

There were still some facets of the suggested improvements, however, that would be difficult to integrate in the near future:

“The technology readiness level (TRL; Moorhouse, 2002) of the 3DGP concrete technology in this research is estimated to be 6, which is already on technology demonstration stage,” stated the researchers. “This would suggest using LCA even at an earlier stage of the TRL trajectory to guarantee a greater support of technological innovation, when the core components of a technology are more flexible to change.”

The technology being explored is emerging—just like the accompanying market—but the researchers state that it is also reasonably complex. The researchers worked with technology developers in relation to the following potential for the future:

  • Technological landscape
  • Market penetration
  • Commercial data
  • Overall feasibility

The researchers also created numerous scenarios, including those titled ‘what ifs.’

“To generate ‘what-if’ scenarios, hotspots analysis is performed and then four scenarios are developed based on improved hotspots, using the hotspots as building blocks. Thus, hotspots analysis be a structured method to develop scaled-up scenarios in ex-ante LCA studies. For the application of the framework of the ex-ante LCA methodology to other technological systems, additional scenario types and generating methods need to be considered as additional case studies and methodological contributions become available,” stated the researchers.

LCA helps researchers and analysts gain insight into environmental performance, as well as highlighting possible challenges, early on. The authors described this study as going from ‘cradle to gate’ as they analyzed the three stages of the 3DGP concrete system:

  • Raw materials
  • Transport
  • 3DGP concrete manufacturing

The summary of research processes (Adapted from Villares et al., 2017)

The details of four scenarios used in this study.

Overall, the researchers were concerned with some ‘discrepancies’ regarding 3D printing, attributed to the variances between raw materials, combined with different hardware. Silicate, however, stood out as offering ‘considerable impacts’ on the manufacturing process, and better results.

“The current study setup excludes the use-phase and end-of-life phase for both technology systems. While the environmental impacts of 3DGP concrete and ordinary concrete in the use phase are similar, the collection, treatment, and potential recycling ratio of these two alternatives may be different after utilization,” concluded the researchers.

“3DGP concrete does not have an advantage over ordinary concrete from the perspective of the transportation of raw materials. For ordinary concrete, the supply of raw materials operates at full commercial scale, due to the mature nature of the market. The transportation distances of raw materials are not long for ordinary concrete. These aspects do leave still little room for improvements and rationalization in the use of resources.”

The flowchart of 3D printing geo-polymer (3DGP) concrete

3D printing in the construction industry and with concrete is becoming more common as industrialists realize the enormous advantages, experimenting with reinforcing spatial structures, examining parameters in 3D printed concrete, even 3D printing self-healing capsules for cement.

What do you think of this news? Let us know your thoughts! Join the discussion of this and other 3D printing topics at 3DPrintBoard.com.

[Source / Images: ‘Life Cycle Assessment of 3D Printing Geo-polymer Concrete: An Ex-ante Study’]

Share this Article


Recent News

Polyga Releases Professional Handheld H3 3D Scanning System

Lung Cancer Treatment: 3D Printing Molds for Personalized Airway Stents



Categories

3D Design

3D Printed Art

3D Printed Food

3D Printed Guns


You May Also Like

3D Printing and COVID-19, May 29, 2020 Update: Lessons for Going Forward

Companies, organizations and individuals continue to attempt to lend support to the COVID-19 pandemic supply effort. We will be providing regular updates about these initiatives where necessary in an attempt to ensure...

Featured

Virtual AM Medical Event: From Innovations to the Future of Additive Manufacturing in the Medical Industry

The American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) hosted a first-of-its-kind event with experts discussing the instrumental role and impact of additive manufacturing (AM) on patient care. Originally set to take...

3D Printing Review in Drug Delivery Systems: Pharmaceutical Particulates and Membranes

Researchers from Egypt, India, and the UK are studying the role of 3D printing in drug delivery systems. Their findings are detailed in the recently released ‘Pharmaceutical Particulates and Membranes...

Sponsored

3DHEALS2020: A Not So Lonely Planet

Only a few weeks away from 3DHEALS2020, and I just got off the phone with one of our speakers, Dr. Ho, from NAMIC Singapore. Our brief interview reminded me just...


Shop

View our broad assortment of in house and third party products.


Subscribe To Our Newsletter

Subscribe To Our Newsletter

Join our mailing list to receive the latest news and updates from our 3DPrint.com.

You have Successfully Subscribed!