Synthetic spider silk. 3D printed concrete. The creative minds in the construction industry are always inventing or enhancing materials to make our lives better.
Here are just three recent developments in the technology of construction products we think you should know about…
Synthetic Spider Silk
An international research team recently published designs for artificial spider silk fibres. The fibres can have better tensile strength and toughness than even spiders can achieve. The research was published in the Journal of Advanced Functional materials by the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences and the Karolinska Institute at the beginning of June 2022.
The synthetic fibres have the potential to replace plastic-based fibres used in the construction industry today, which can harm the environment. Find the entire research paper here.
Co-author of the document, a Professor at the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences received a grant from the European research council to investigate the fibres’ market potential in industries like construction. They will do this by scaling up production, conducting market analyses, secure patent rights and by starting a company.
3d Printed Graphene enhanced cement
On 10th March 2022, engineering materials group Versarian unveiled new sustainable 3D printed ‘lifestyle pods’. The pods are created using their trademarked graphene-enhanced cement: Cementene™, which uses fewer materials to build while maintaining the same structural performance as ordinary concrete.
“With graphene-enhanced concrete, we could reduce the carbon emissions of one of the most polluting industries today.”
– Kari Hjelt, Head of Innovation of the Graphene Flagship
HS2 announced in 2021 that they would be combining graphene-enhanced concrete with ‘printfrastructure’ to help reduce the carbon emissions on the project by up to 50%. Printfrastructure is a 3D reinforced concrete printing technology,
Making concrete on-site using 3d printing can reduce carbon emissions from transporting materials, improve site safety, give greater construction flexibility, and has a shorter build time.
Metal foam has an ultralight cellular structure with gas-filled pores. It only uses up to 25% metal to create. In 2018, researchers from the University of Surrey found that:
“metallic foam panels can support loads of up to ten times more than commonly used steel plates, which need recurring maintenance due to fatigue cracks in bridges and other structures.”
Mordor Intelligence predicted that the metal foam market would grow at 4% yearly from 2022 to 2027. Construction is mentioned as a driving force behind the increased demand for metallic foam. This is because growing concern for environmental welfare among consumers means that metallic foam panels are being requested for use in more projects. Metal foam is popular among consumers since it offers improved insulation and can be dismantled and transported with zero waste.