M id A tlantic Real Estate Journal — Owners, Developers & Managers — Architects / Engineers — August 19 - September 15, 2022 — 5C Architects / Engineers
By Rick Hinson, PE, ECS Mid-Atlantic Will your next house be printed 3-Dimensional Concrete?
M any of us may have seen or remember the large plotters
the choices for wall construction include wood and steel framing, pre-engineered and pre-made wall frames in steel, wood, and concrete, insulated concrete form block, etc. In addition, cer- tain challenges also need to be addressed in terms of water and air control at the building enve- lope. But the next time you see a huge printer extruding concrete, you can be pretty sure you have seen the next in 3-dimensional printing technology, a full-size structure, not just a model. Rick Hinson, PE serves as facilities department manager with ECS Mid- Atlantic. MAREJ
used to print drawings or posters. But drawings or posters are two dimen- sional. What if you could print a lot of pages and stack them
between the two printed seg- ments and the wall is capped with a bond beam. When complete, the wall has the appearance of stacked pancakes, with each printed layer forming a rounded edge a few inches thick. The final look can be left as printed or
parged or furred out to hide the concrete wall. Some proj- ects will print just the exterior walls, others will print both interior and exterior walls. Generally, the mechanical, electrical, and plumbing sys- tems are conventional systems installed later to complete
the building. After printing, the gantry and the concrete footings for the gantry are removed, the property land- scaped, and the work com- pleted. The future is unclear as to the long-term viability of this technology in a market where
in layers to get three dimen- sions? Printing in three dimen- sions has been done for years in plastics and metals. Now, there is a push to use concrete and print structures, specifi - cally residential homes. Here in Virginia, these have popped up in places like Williamsburg, Accomack, Richmond and the Town of Pulaski among others. They are being printed across the nation and overseas. The process is simple in concept. The footing and foun- dations are commonly slab on grade concrete slabs. From there a large house size gantry is erected to handle a motorized trolley which holds a nozzle and concrete feed hose. The feed hose is connected to a small batch plant and provides a supply of concrete that is plastic enough to be pumped and then extruded but not lose shape once placed. The nozzle trolley is moved around in a closed loop pattern controlled by a computer. The computer has the design and moves the nozzle trolley in two dimen- sions. With each pass, the third dimension brings the shape up to the design height. As the printing proceeds, openings for doors, windows, and utilities are provided by the computer which will also stop and start the nozzle operation. Lintels and related miscellaneous steel can be added as the printing proceeds. Walls can be poured for the required thickness based on the design. Normally, the walls are printed as two vertical seg- ments tied together by horizo- nal steel reinforcement which is manually laid in place at regu- lar intervals. This reinforcing is very similar to ladder truss type reinforcing commonly used in masonry construction. Based on gravity and lateral load requirements, vertical reinforcement can also be pro- vided from the slab as the walls are printed. Blown or pumped insulation is added to the space
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