Vertico, a Dutch firm that has developed a concrete 3D printing technology, recently demonstrated its capabilities by 3D printing a concrete footbridge in collaboration with the University of Ghent. Not only a feat for its concrete AM technology, the bridge showcases Vertico’s ability to utilize optimized design to reduce material consumption without compromising strength or stress-resistance. According to the Amersfoort-based company, the bridge’s design allowed for a material reduction of 60%!
Vertico’s concrete 3D printing technology consists of a robotic system that deposits a special concrete mixture layer by layer to create structures. The system—like many other concrete 3D printing technologies—makes it possible to create complex forms and shapes, unlocking new opportunities in the field of architecture.
In addition to increasingly complex forms, Vertico has also placed a special emphasis on material reduction in the construction process—which has both financial and ecological implications. The construction industry—and especially the production of cement—is responsible for a shocking amount of the world’s CO2 emissions, so a solution in which less material was required to build could result in a lower carbon footprint for the industry.
The bridge, for instance, has reduced material use by 60% by integrating an optimized structure—which could only be made using 3D printing. According to Vertico, the bridge’s form was inspired by organic shapes. “Structural optimization tools are now being used more and more to minimize material use and thus CO2,” said the Dutch company. “This optimization often results in very organic shapes, which is not surprising as in nature evolution optimizes material use.”
Projects such as the 3D printed footbridge are showing the construction industry at large what concrete 3D printing is capable of, which is the first step in promoting the adoption of the technology. Though there is still a ways to go before people are living in 3D printed homes, the construction 3D printing sector has taken some huge strides in recent years and continues to advance rapidly.
“This bridge showcases the range of possibilities that 3D concrete printing offers,” said Volker Ruitinga, Founder of Vertico. “At Vertico, we believe that this technology is the key to unlocking material optimization in structures, reducing CO2 emissions whilst simultaneously increasing productivity in the construction industry.”
Vertico is currently also working on developing another project: a compression only concrete dome, which will begin production in February 2020. The boundary-pushing 3D printing firm has also produced such interesting projects as concrete sculptures, architectural facades and even concrete canoes.