3D printed buildings and individually printed 3D materials have been a research focus for the construction industry and innovative IT teams for some time now.

Recently, the researchers at Purdue University in the US, designed an innovative method in reproducing cement paste, which is repeatedly used as an integral part of building structures across the globe, by printing it in 3D.  Not only is this type of bioinspired printing a new venture for the 3D printing sector, but the form of cement that it can print has also been commended for its toughened capabilities, which could eventually be used to build homes in areas where natural disasters are a regular occurrence.

Researching natural structures could be the basis of a new construction era

Initially inspired by nature and in particular the mantis shrimp which grows a tougher shell on impact by twisting its cracks that then dissipates energy, the cement paste has ability to control how damage spreads between layers of a material.  Like the shells of arthropods such as lobsters and beetles, the infrastructure gets tougher as pressure is applied.

“Nature has to deal with weaknesses to survive, so we are using the ‘built-in’ weaknesses of cement-based materials to increase their toughness,” said Jan Olek, a professor in Purdue’s Lyles School of Civil Engineering.

This could mark a major new era for the construction industry, which have long sought to find new ways of building in areas where natural disasters are a regular occurrence.  In doing so, the University team hopes to research and create other cement-based structures which could alter how buildings are constructed in the future.

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