Novel 3D-printed cement may help build resilient buildings
Researchers have created a 3D-printed cement paste that gets stronger when it cracks, paving the way for buildings that are more resilient to earthquakes, a study has found.
The cement paste, a key ingredient of the concrete and mortar used to build various elements of infrastructure, that gets tougher under pressure like the shells of arthropods such as lobsters and beetles.
“Nature has to deal with weaknesses to survive, so we are using the ‘built-in’ weaknesses of cement-based materials to increase their toughness,” said Jan Olek, a professor at Purdue University in the US.
The idea would be to use designs inspired by arthropod shells to control how damage spreads between the printed layers of a material.
3D-printed cement-based materials such as cement paste, mortar and concrete would give engineers more control over design and performance, but technicalities have stood in the way of scaling them up.