3-D printing ‘greener’ buildings using Sustainable Materials

Currently, the construction industry is facing two major challenges: the need to fix dilapidated buildings, roads, and bridges and to meet the demand for sustainable infrastructure. While concrete is of choice for many construction undertakings, the material has a large carbon footprint. This results in high waste and energy expenses.

In a bid to develop a substitute, researchers now elucidate progress towards a sustainable building material composed of local soil, employing a 3-D printer to fabricate a load-bearing structure.

The research is scheduled to be presented today at the American Chemical Society Fall 2020 Virtual Meeting & Expo.

Additive Manufacturing to transform Construction Sector

“At present, the environmental impact of the construction industry is a growing concern,” said the principal investigator of the project. To present a solution to this, some researchers have resorted to additive manufacturing, or constructing structures layer by layer, which is mostly done with a 3-D printer. Employing such techniques have begun to transform the construction sector with respect to reducing waste, and sustainable nature of materials in use.

For example, construction undertakings that use exuded covering of concrete have focused the potential of layer by layer manufacturing for creating structures quickly and in an inexpensive manner. However, concrete manufacturing is responsible for only 7% carbon dioxide emissions, according to statistics of the International Energy Agency, and cannot be recycled.

“Historically, locally sourced materials such as adobe were used for construction undertakings. But the move to concrete has led to many environmental issues,” said a graduate student at the lab involved in the study. The thought is to move back in time and find a way to use materials from the backyard as a potential replacement for concrete.