Scientists from the Polytechnic University of Valencia (UPV) have made use of recycled plastics to create 3D printable, Lego-like polymeric beams for construction purposes.
Said to weigh up to 80% less than concrete or metallic beams, these beams could revolutionize the whole construction process as they don’t need heavy cranes or lorries to carry and install them.
They also save time and money on labor and materials, and can be printed and assembled in situ, which facilitates their installation anywhere, regardless of how difficult it is to reach.
“Our goal was to propose an alternative to the current reinforced concrete beams,” notes UPV lecturer José Ramón Albiol.
Reinforced concrete beams used today are made using profiles built for the length of the piece. This requires expensive installation and are hard to transport.
The main novelty of the UPV beam is its alveolar structure (inspired by human bones around the epiphysis) which makes it possible to decrease the amount of plastic used – and therefore its weight – while maintaining structural rigidity.
Thanks to 3D printing, these multiple longitudinal segments can be assembled and concreted where you wish to install the structure. And since they contain no metallic component, one needn’t worry about corrosion.
The system also removes the need for costly formwork and bending, which makes it possible to work without having to stop traffic at the infrastructure that is being worked on, adds UPV’s José Luis Bonet.
On top of that, it decreases the required labor and auxiliary means, which entails cost and time savings.
Image and content: Polytechnic University of Valencia