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Quikrete Cos. and Energy Department partner on 3D-printed concrete project

Atlanta-based Quikrete Companies and the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Tennessee, have entered a cooperative research and development agreement to design next-generation concrete for production of large-scale structures or elements through a 3D printing process (see “Sweet Success,” page 50). Using an Oak Ridge-developed additive manufacturing system, the two-phase, two-year collaboration will target specially-formulated mixes spawning new construction capabilities.

ORNL Photo

PHOTO: Oak Ridge National Laboratory

In alignment with the DOE Advanced Manufacturing Office’s Multi-Year Program Plan, Quikrete and Oak Ridge will aim for concrete mixes equal to fabricating buildings, energy or transportation infrastructure components and other large-scale structures faster, more affordably and with less power consumption than conventional methods. Designed as a pumpable, low- or zero-slump material that sets quickly and gains strength rapidly, the new concrete will be ideal for printable construction. Researchers envision a material meeting tensile and compressive strength, curing, durability, ductility and other performance characteristics required for commercial use.

“Oak Ridge National Laboratory is one of the most advanced players on the global additive technology stage,” says Quikrete Chief Technology Officer Chuck Cornman. “Quikrete is not only a leader in concrete technology, but also second-to-none in construction materials manufacturing and logistics. Working together, [we] can quickly develop advanced and economical ‘inks’ to supply all varieties of 3D concrete printers. We are optimistic that this technology will be a game changer for the concrete industry and revolutionize construction practice.”

“We look forward to working with Quikrete, developing a novel material for large-scale construction, and anticipate this project will have significant industry impact,” adds Oak Ridge R&D Scientist Brian Post. “As a leader in advanced manufacturing, DOE’s Manufacturing Demonstration Facility at Oak Ridge National Laboratory is uniquely suited to advance this technology.”