Additive manufacturing of cementitious composites: Materials, methods, potentials, and challenges
School of Engineering
From medical to aerospace applications, construction on the Earth to construction on the other planets, additive manufacturing (AM) technology, which is commonly known as 3D printing, has revolutionized manufacturing and construction industries. In other word, other Renaissance era has been started by the born of AM technology. Since the early stage, AM technology developed the initial concepts such as workforce, production time, and costs to an advanced level. With further progression and introduction of multifunctional materials to 3D printing technology, a new chapter of attempts towards mechanization in many more industries, eliminating excessive components needed for fabricated devices, and post-fabrication processes has been launched, which undoubtedly are able to push limitations forwards automation in building and construction industry. Despite of passing almost three decades since the genesis of AM technology, its application in construction industry has not reached to its real potential due to the various numbers of reasons including inappropriate available 3D printing techniques for large-scale construction, limitations in the materials, economic issue due to the expensive equipment, etc. Appearance of new 3D printing methods suitable for structural printing such as contour crafting and binder jetting, have provided new paths towards automated building and construction industry. However, in respect of material science, numerous challenges must be addressed including developing smart cementitious composites suitable for 3D structural printing, reinforcement of cementitious composites during printing process, and 3D printing of fibre-reinforced cementitious composites. Achieving to high-performance printed cementitious composites are another challenge ahead. Highly likely, construction of real habitats on the other planets such as the Mars and Moon, would not be a dream if we could cope with present hurdles in 3D structural printing and develop innovative generation of 3D printers, such as robotic 3D printers. Hence, due to the important role of cement-based materials in the future of automated construction industry, this paper makes an attempt to represent a critical review of materials and methods for AM of cementitious composites, and will address challenges and future possibilities of this beneficial field of science.