New 3D-printed cement paste gets stronger when it cracks

3D Printed Cement‐Based Materials with Bioinspired Design.

The first-ever bioinspired 3D-printed cement paste element shows promise for making infrastructure more resilient to mechanical loads, like those that occur during natural disasters. (Purdue University Concrete 3D Printing Team/Mohamadreza Moini)
The first-ever bioinspired 3D-printed cement paste element shows promise for making infrastructure more resilient to mechanical loads, like those that occur during natural disasters. (Purdue University Concrete 3D Printing Team/Mohamadreza Moini)

Purdue University analysts have 3D-printed cement paste, a key element of the concrete and mortar used to construct different components of the foundation, that gets harder under strain like the shells of arthropods, for example, lobsters and creepy beetles. The system could contribute to more resilient structures during natural disasters.

The thought is utilize designs enlivened by arthropod shells to control how damage spreads between the printed layers of a material, such as endeavoring to break a cluster of uncooked spaghetti noodles rather than a single noodle.

Pablo Zavattieri, Purdue professor of civil engineering said, “The exoskeletons of arthropods have crack propagation and toughening mechanisms that we can reproduce in 3D-printed cement paste.”

New designs allow 3D-printed cement paste elements to behave differently, such as like a spring. (Purdue University Concrete 3D Printing Team video/Mohamadreza Moini)
New designs allow 3D-printed cement paste elements to behave differently, such as like a spring. (Purdue University Concrete 3D Printing Team video/Mohamadreza Moini)

As scientists noted, this 3D printed cement paste would help engineers to control over design and performance, but technicalities have stood in the way of scaling them up. For the experiment, scientists even have created bioinspired structures including  “honeycomb,” “compliant” and “Bouligand”.

Jeffrey Youngblood, Purdue professor of materials engineering said, “3D printing has removed the need for creating a mold for each type of design so that we can achieve these unique properties of cement-based materials that were not possible before.”

Moreover, scientists used micro-CT scans to better understand the behavior of hardened 3D-printed cement-based materials and take advantage of their weak characteristics, such as pore regions found at the “interfaces” between the printed layers, which promote cracking.

Mohamadreza “Reza” Moini, a Purdue Ph.D. candidate of civil engineering said, “3D printing cement-based materials provides control over their structure, which can lead to the creation of more damage and flaw-tolerant structural elements like beams or columns.”

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