Construction

QUIKRETE and Contour Crafting partner up to fight homelessness with concrete 3D printing

U.S.-based concrete specialists QUIKRETE and Contour Crafting Corporation (CC Corp) have announced a collaboration to develop a proprietary concrete to be used with CC Corp’s concrete 3D printing technology. The partnership will see the automated construction of residential, commercial, industrial, and government buildings around the U.S. starting with the City of Angels, Los Angeles.

Dr. Behrokh Khoshnevis, CC Corp’s CEO and a pioneer in construction 3D printing, stated: “CC Corp is pleased with the collaboration arrangement with The QUIKRETE Companies as it aspires to create useful construction technologies that offer structurally and economically viable solutions that perform at least as well as the conventional concrete construction practices.”

Contour Crafting's 3D concrete printing technology. Image via CC Corp.
Contour Crafting’s 3D concrete printing technology. Image via CC Corp.

QUIKRETE concrete

QUIKRETE’s specialist concrete mix is formulated with CC Corp’s 3D printing technology in mind. The material includes coarse additives that make it perfectly suited to large-scale extrusion, enabling high-quality bespoke structures in a fast and cost-efficient manner. QUIKRETE made sure to address some key requirements when developing the new concrete mix, ensuring shape-holding thixotropic properties, a rapid setting time, and dimensional stability features (aka anti-droop).

Chuck Cornman, Chief Technology Officer at QUIKRETE, explains: “QUIKRETE appreciates the practical approach taken by Contour Crafting to address real-life issues that we can anticipate as we implement this game-changing, concrete-printing technology. The material properties needed for 3D concrete printing are closely aligned with QUIKRETE’s core technologies in rheological tuning, hydration and set time control, and managing dimensional stability.”

Combatting homelessness in LA

The initial goal of the collaboration is to build low-income housing and disaster relief facilities. According to CC Corp, a 2000 square foot house can be 3D printed in a few days as opposed to a few weeks for just a fraction of the cost of traditional building techniques. This will be demonstrated with the construction of four low-income housing units as part of a sub-project sponsored by the LA County Development Authority, chipping away at the homelessness problem present on LA’s streets.

CC Corp, before beginning any construction, hopes to confirm Acceptance Criteria AC509 compliance (concerning 3D printed concrete walls), which it has previously successfully shepherded through the ICC-ES approval process. To do this, the company’s 3D printing technology will undergo comprehensive testing at an independent accredited lab at the University of Southern California.

Tents along a street in downtown LA. The number of homeless people counted across the county jumped 12% in 2019. Photo via Richard Vogel.
Tents along a street in downtown LA. The number of homeless people counted across the county jumped 12% in 2019. Photo via Richard Vogel.

As the need for affordable housing increases globally, we see more and more research going into the field of concrete 3D printing. Engineers from Purdue University have begun working on a method of 3D printing concrete wind turbine parts for offshore use. The research will hopefully end in the 3D printing of concrete anchors for the sea bed – a component previously made from costly steel. Elsewhere, in Italy, University of Messina researchers have formulated a lightweight foamed concrete to more effectively 3D print building structures without the need for any formwork.

The nominations for the 2020 3D Printing Industry Awards are now open. Who do you think should make the shortlists for this year’s show? Have your say now. 

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Featured image shows Contour Crafting’s 3D concrete printing technology. Image via CC Corp.

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