3D-Admix named most innovative product at the 2023 WoC
Developed by US inventor and civil engineer Michael Butler, the new admix allows for the rapid vertical buildability of concrete at a low dose. 3D-Admix consists of water-reactive solids highly condensed into a pure SRA liquid, which is injected, near the end of a concrete pump line, into a new type of static mixer that can pass coarse aggregates. This allows for the digital placement of conventional delivered concrete, avoiding building forms or spraying shotcrete.
As the thickening solids in 3D-Admix react upon introduction to water, the admix works with SCMs. It creates a matrix of mini-solids that absorb excess water, preventing it from weakening the concrete, and then provide very effective internal curing. Plastic shrinkage can be eliminated entirely.
“The inline concrete modification can emphasize thickening, set acceleration, shrinkage compensation, or cancellation of the self-leveling effect of PCEs – it can even produce the recently rediscovered Roman concrete”, Butler explains.
Butler is applying the system to rapid vertical slip forming, which is less technically demanding than 3D printing and allows all code-required reinforcement to be in place.
Automation can reach new heights
Presently in-service cylinder-switching concrete pumps can be integrated with the semi-automated placement processes because of a new simplified surge-smoothing technology. GPS-guided excavator attachments can now be used for concrete placement, full thickness to a finished surface, in lieu of spraying layers and then trimming shotcrete. Slip forming automation can vertically extrude small-footprint projects in-situ, such as elevator shafts and wind turbine towers, with all needed reinforcement.
Although SpaceCrete is still a micro startup operating out of Butler’s garage, the company is seeking partnership with construction entities in Europe to further develop the methods and related patents. 3D-Admix has opened up new possibilities in the construction industry, and its potential for the rapid construction of complex structures is unprecedented.