Introducing a New 3D-Printed Cement That Will Make Buildings Indestructible

Inspired but the complex structure of arthropods shells, researchers developed a new technique to produce cement.

The technique involves 3D printing and it’s expected to make the constructions built through this process much stronger than before.

The key characteristic of the arthropods shells like is that it gets harder under strain thanks to crack propagation and toughening mechanisms.

The ability to reproduce these characteristics in a cement paste would, therefore, allow building more resilient structures.

Besides its resilience, the printable nature of this new building material allows replicating patterns, like honeycomb patterns or a helicoidal pattern, that have unique properties.

“There are several questions and opportunities that we still need to answer,” says Pablo Zavattieri, Purdue professor of civil engineering. “We still do not understand the role of the rheological properties of fresh cement paste — as it is being extruded through the 3D printer, and it is deposited and put at rest on top of the already printed structure. We also do not know the properties of the new architectured materials during the first hours and days, as the cement paste goes through [its solidification] process. This involves all kind of mechanisms at different length scales, such as shrinkage and drying. We are going to explore the role of controlling weak interfaces.”

Scientists have detailed the information about this 3D printed cement paste in the journal Advanced Materials.