RMIT University scientists have drawn inspiration from the natural strength of lobster shells to create stronger 3D printed concrete.
According to the scientists, 3D concrete printing (3DCP) has immense potential to save time, effort and material in construction. These specially designed 3D printing patterns could result in complex and creative architectural structures.
As part of their study, the scientists drew on the spiral patterns seen within a lobster’s shell to improve the overall durability of the 3D printed concrete.
They were also able to precisely direct the strength for structural support where needed.
Combining the twisting patterns with a specialized concrete mix enhanced with steel fibers, resulted in a material that was stronger than traditionally-made concrete.
Previous research by the RMIT team found that including 1-2% steel fibers in the concrete mix reduced defects and porosity, increasing strength.
The fibers also helped the concrete harden early without deformation, enabling higher structures to be built.
“As lobster shells are naturally strong and naturally curved, we know this could help us deliver stronger concrete shapes like arches and flowing or twisted structures,” says lead researcher Dr Jonathan Tran.
“This work is in early stages so we need further research to test how the concrete performs on a wider range of parameters, but our initial experimental results show we are on the right track.”
RMIT recently acquired a large-scale mobile concrete 3D printer; the 5×5m robotic printer will be used by the team to research the 3D printing of houses, buildings and large structural components.
The team will also use the machine to explore the potential for 3D printing with concrete made with recycled waste materials such as soft plastic aggregate.
Image and content: LobsterAnywhere/RMIT University