3D Printed Fire Resistant Concrete Could Advance Affordable Housing
The researchers have identified an improved construction for 3D printed walls that would make them more fire retardant than existing configurations. The discovery could help advance the application of technology in the construction of commercial and residential projects.
A collaboration between researchers at the University of Sri Jayewardenepura in Sri Lanka and the University of Northumbria in England, the team found that the density of walls rather than their thickness is the key to achieving the best insulation index. possible fire.
After printing a set of twelve different wall panels with different configurations – solid panels as well as one with empty cavities inside – the group heated them to a high temperature to test their strength. It was found that when panels with empty space inside were filled with rock wool, a form of rock wool, they could last up to five hours longer at high temperatures before disintegrating.
Potential cost savings too – 3D printing offers the potential to dramatically reduce the cost of construction projects, as they can be built without the need for supports like beams or columns, as wall panels are created when thin layers of concrete are deposited and harden. quickly one layer at a time. Structures can be built inside a factory using extensive automation – a 3D printing construction startup called Icon has mentionned Its 3D printing system can work around the clock doing the work of 10-20 workers.
But regulators and buyers will need to be convinced that they are safe. Companies like Mighty buildings (and others) are already selling 3D printed homes in the United States, and other companies are printing commercial projects. But little research has been published on how structures resist fire. This is not a theoretical concern, as demonstrated by an infamous London apartment fire that in 2017 killed 72 people. There is currently a project underway in Germany to 3D print a three-story apartment.
Needless to say, 3D printing has the promise of alleviating the housing shortage and providing shelter to more people. Mighty Buildings claims its construction costs are 40% cheaper than traditional homes. But we shouldn’t put people who need affordable housing in powder kegs. This latest research is a step in the right direction.