3D concrete – the future of architectural design?

There has been a long history of architects that have complained about concrete being a difficult medium to work with. The common complaints surround the issue that concrete often forces their ideas to just become flat and angular shapes. However their complaints may now be consigned to history as a partnership between a 3D engineering and printing company with a construction company look to eradicate the issue and promote a new dawn in architectural design.

A new development in concrete design

Collaboration between 3Dealise and Bruil has resulted in the development of a way to combine free flowing design and form, which 3D printing allows, to large scale concrete structures. They hope their new offering will allow architects to use their imaginations more by removing some of the technical limitations of concrete. New irregularly curved surfaces and lightweight structures are just some of the benefits that this new method may bring to the way concrete is crafted in the future.
A mould is designed by specialist architects and then made by the 3D printer within 24 hours. There is a range of concrete options available from the manufacturers including fibre-reinforced concrete, which will allow a structure to be made which is ready to be used.

Improving separation

Additionally, the company has improved the way that the concrete is separated from its cast. Traditionally, concrete is cast in sand, however the sand usually sticks to the concrete whereas it is not necessary with this process. Once the mould has been created it is treated with a special coating which allows the concrete structure to be easily separated without the disadvantage of the substance sticking to the concrete. The method they have developed for coating the mould and allowing the concrete to be separated is similar to the method to stopping concrete sticking to a wooden mould by using oil.
The company now hopes to use their technology to improve the process of casting metals, which traditionally uses sand too. Without the addition of these impurities to the end product it is hope that this new method will be superior to the traditional casting processes. Their 3D printer will allow the process of casting metals such as iron, steel and bronzes to be refined and simplified.

In addition to this, the company also has their eyes set on additional markets, where their casting process could have some real benefits. One such potential market they are looking at is using their process to improve the casting of other pourable substances such as plastics and rubbers.