Design and manufacture of customized 3D printed urban furniture using recycled sand

PointP-TP-béton-3D-conception 1000 


In North West Europe, 65 Mt of Recycled Fine Aggregates (RFA) are generated yearly from the crushing of Concrete Construction and Demolition Wastes. They are usually disposed in landfills used for embankments. In the meantime, 54 Mt of marine sands are extracted, threatening fragile marine spaces. Reusing RFA in concrete will save natural resources. Specifically for 3D printing of customized pieces manufactured for urban furniture.

3D Printing (3DP) is developing rapidly in the field of construction. Fast realisation of customized or complex geometries, optimization of shapes … are amongst the main advantages of the process that could allow significant breakthroughs. 3DP of concrete pieces without moulds could in particular be of great interest in precast industry when unique and costly pieces have to be built, as for the production of urban furniture where local public authorities want furniture to be a banner of their identity. However, mortars used in 3DP contain very large amounts of cement and natural sand in comparison to ordinary concrete and the overall ecological and economic balance seems unfavourable to 3DP. Meanwhile, Construction and Demolition Wastes (C&DW) are produced locally in urban centres and some of them, in particular Recycled Concrete Aggregates (RCA), could be used as a local resource of granular materials. The coarse fraction of RCA (larger than 4mm) can be re-used efficiently for the manufacture of new concrete. On the contrary, adherent cement paste concentrates in fine RCA during crushing which makes it much harder to valorise into concrete. However, recycled sand and recycled fine particles could be re-used as raw materials for the manufacture of 3D printing mortars for urban furniture where high mechanical behaviour is not required.

The project aims at developing new solutions for the design and manufacture of urban furniture by 3DP with ecological materials. First, design and optimization of shapes will allow a reduction of mortar’s quantity. Then, use of local recycled resources (especially recycled sand) and alternative binders in partial substitution of Portland cement will allow decreasing CO2 balance, natural resources depletion and cost of the products. Substituting natural constituents by recycled ones could reduce the regularity of the printed material and improving online monitoring during printing will allow to compensate properties variability. Moreover, the durability of mortars could be affected by the use of recycled materials and mixes will also be optimized with regard to this aspect. The project will address north of France, Belgium, west of Germany, Netherlands, United Kingdom and Ireland where similar typologies of recycled/substitution materials can be found.

The project will be carried out in the continuity of several cooperative research works, in particular of the SeRaMCo project (Interrreg NWE) and the MATRICE project (ERDF region Hauts de France). The SeRaMCo project already explores the re-use of RCA for the manufacture of concrete precast products using traditional casting technology. In particular, concrete furniture will be manufactured with cast concrete using RCA. The MATRICE project delivered a proof of concept for the application of concrete 3D printing in construction. In particular, specific customized shapes, printing mortars, and 3D printers have been developed in the frame of the project and are now operational for the 3D printing of concrete products of sizes compatibles with urban furniture. Combining knowledge acquired in these two projects would allow designing and printing customized urban furniture with recycled concrete.

Person in charge: Prof. Luc Courard

Researcher: Julien Hubert

Financing : total budget of the project is 7 768 817.89 €. The project is funded by INTERREG North West Europe program (European Union).

Partners: Association pour la Recherche et le Développement des Méthodes et Processus Industriels (ARMINES), Manchester Metropolitan University, Pompes Funèbres de l'Avesnois, Technische Universität Kaiserslautern, NEO ECO DEVELOPPEMENT, Université de Liège, Université d’Orléans, Heberger GmbH Heberger , VICAT, Gemeente Almere, Stadt Pirmasens, Université de Lille, CIRWINN, Association pour le redéploiement économique du bassin sérésien, Centre technologique international de la Terre et de la Pierre, École Nationale Supérieure d'Architecture et de Paysage de Lille

Duration: 3 years (starting July 2020)
 photo de une : ©XtreeE

Share this page