3D printed mineral foam construction elements
Researchers at ETH Zürich used 3D printing to develop cement-free mineral foam lightweight and insulated wall construction.
The goal of the project is to reduce the amount of material, labour, and costs required for bespoke building parts. The cement-free mineral foams are made from recycled waste and produced by the company FenX AG. The material has a lower carbon footprint than foamed concrete or plastic foams.
Called Airlements, the pilot project produced a 2m high pillar, assembled from four 3D printed parts. All parts were printed in under one hour and hardened for a week in an environment with a temperature between 20 and 28 degrees Celsius. Thus, no energy-intensive processing was required. The corrugated texture of the prints results from the path design that increases the strength during hardening and of the final part.
Each of the four hollow segments only weighs 25 kg and can be handled by one person. The hollow core can be cast with mineral foam to create a monolithic system together with the protective cover of cement-free plaster for the application as non-structural exterior walls. As the column consist of only one material, recycling at the end-of-life will be easier.
Photos: ETH Zurich