A German company is bringing smart technology to a pretty low-tech building material – concrete – using a variety of 3D printing innovations. NOWLab, the innovation arm of large-scale 3D print specialist BigRep, has unveiled a “smart concrete” concept that combines 3D-printed concrete molds with printed lights and sensor technology.
The initial demonstration of this technology is a honeycomb-type concrete wall panel with integrated lights that can be activated via human touch. Using 3D-printed forms and molds, NOWLabs believes that more artistry can be brought to concrete in architecture.
The company printed the concrete molds using the BigRep ONE 3D printer at Immensa Labs in Dubai. Immensa worked with Consolidated Contractors Company (CCC), a United Arab Emirates –based construction firm, to develop the concrete screen. Three molds are stacked together and filled with concrete to create the initial wall. The 3D-pritned lights and cable channels for the electronics are then added to the framework. A capacity sensor in one of the hexagonal compartments activate the lights based on touch.
According to CCC, the technology allows any piece of concrete to become a switch.
“Architects will now have direct control of the development of their designs, and this functionalization of a concrete surface is the first of its kind,” said Aref Boulawan, manager of management information systems and business process re-engineering at CCC, in a Construction Week article. “The potential impact of this technology is limitless, and we are truly proud to present these world-first results with Immensa.”