03-18-20 | News

Manufacturer and Laboratory Partner to Develop Printable Concrete

Designed for Large-scale Construction Projects

Transportation infrastructure construction is a target industry for the new efforts by the U.S. Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory and the QUIKRETE?C?AE Companies to develop an innovative type of 3D printing concrete.

The QUIKRETE?C?AE Companies and the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) recently entered a cooperative research and development agreement to design next-generation concrete for use in the production of large-scale structures through a 3D printing process. Using an additive manufacturing system developed by ORNL, the collaboration will deliver specially-formulated concrete that establishes new construction capabilities.

In alignment with the DOE's Advanced Manufacturing Office's Multi-Year Program Plan, the two partners are developing a concrete mix with the strength, curing time, and durability to construct transportation infrastructures, buildings, energy installations, and other large-scale structures faster, more affordably and with less energy consumption. Designed as a pumpable, low- or zero-slump material that sets quickly and gains strength rapidly, this new concrete will be ideal for printable construction projects. In addition, the one-of-a-kind concrete will meet tensile strength, compressive strength, ductility and other structural performance characteristics required as a viable building material.

"Oak Ridge National Laboratory is one of the most advanced players on the global additive technology stage," says Chuck Cornman, chief technology officer at the hardscape manufacturer. "(This company) is not only a leader in concrete technology, but also second-to-none in construction materials manufacturing and logistics. Working together, (we) can quickly develop advanced and economical "concrete inks" to supply all varieties of 3D concrete printers. We are optimistic that this technology will be a game changer for the concrete industry and revolutionize the construction practice."

"We look forward to working with (them), developing a novel material for large-scale construction, and we anticipate this project will have significant industry impact," Brian Post, R&D scientist at ORNL states. "As a leader in advanced manufacturing, DOE's Manufacturing Demonstration Facility at ORNL is uniquely suited to advance this technology."

The partnership will leverage ORNL's scientific expertise and its unique facilities along with the manufacturer's robust experience in the plastic and hardened properties of cement-based building materials. The two-phased collaboration, which is the first between the two, concludes in two years.

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