Skanska joins Loughborough University to Develop 3D Concrete Printer
Posted on: 28/11/2014

Swedish construction company Skanska have joined together with engineers at Loughborough Universtity in order to work on providing the world’s first 3D concrete printing robot.

A team of engineers, led by Dr Richard Buswell and Professor Simon Austin at Loughborough University, have been working on this project since 2007 and have so far succeeded in creating a 3D concrete printer, using a gantry and a robotic arm. Working under manual computer control, the printer works by laying down successive layers of concrete, as dictated on the computer, to create whole objects.

Skanska, alongside companies such as Foster + Partner and Buchan Concrete, have collaborated with the University staff to gain an 18 month license which allows them to develop the ‘robot’ to achieve the world's first commercial 3D concrete printer. They will develop the printer to create high-performance concrete, which can be used to create complex structures, such as carved architectural features which are often difficult to construct through manual labour.

Skanska’s Director of Innovation and Business Improvement, Rob Francis commented on the project saying that “3D concrete printing, when combined with a type of mobile prefabrication centre has the potential to reduce the time needed to create complex elements of buildings from weeks to hours. We expect to achieve a level of quality and efficiency which has never been seen before in construction.”

Dr Richard Buswell, leader of the Loughborough University design team, discussed the collaboration between themselves and Skanska commenting that “We are pleased and excited by the opportunity to develop the world's first commercial 3D concrete printing robot with Skanska and their consortium. We have been convinced of its viability in the lab, but it now needs industry to adapt the technology to service real applications in construction and architecture."

As the building industry becomes more demanding and complex, research needs to meet these demands and innovative ideas such as this are definitely a step in the right direction. To be kept up to date with developments in such research join us on our twitter and LinkedIn pages.

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