3D printing concrete: motivations, status and outlook

Published 11 December 2023

While automating concrete construction is not a novel idea, its more recent adoption has been driven by a need for productivity and sustainability. But what is its future? By Timothy Wangler, ETH Zürich Institute for Building Materials, Zurich, Switzerland.

Figure 1: 3D printing technology enables considerable material and carbon footprint savings (right) with structures consisting of ribbed slabs, reminiscent of Pier Luigi Nervi’s designs (left)

Most observers of the current construction landscape have noticed a growing hype around 3D printing in construction, and in particular 3D printing of concrete in construction. The dream of automating concrete construction is not a new one, going all the way back to Thomas Edison’s single pour concrete houses,1 but it was only with the pioneering work of Professor Berokh Khoshnevis at the University of Southern California in the early 2000s2 that it was realised that the combination of rapidly increasing computing power and precision machinery, which was revolutionising manufacturing, could allow for truly automated concrete construction. While the adoption of this technology was not immediate, within the past decade interest has revived and grown exponentially, both academically and industrially. This latest revival was driven by architects who seek to utilise the potential of the technology for design freedom, but a number of factors underly its growing industrial relevance.

To continue reading this story and get access to all News, Articles and Video sections of the CemNet.com website, please Register for a subscription to International Cement Review or Login