This is how lobsters are helping make 3D-printed concrete stronger

In recent years, 3D concrete printing has emerged as an attractive candidate to reimagine the construction industry — one of the biggest sources of environmental pollution in the world. But making concrete durable enough for building complex structures is still an obstacle.

Seeking to overcome this tough challenge, scientists have turned to a famous member of the aquatic world for assistance: the lobster. Inspired by the spiral pattern inside the crustacean’s exoskeleton, researchers at RMIT have managed to develop stronger concrete.

By mimicking that natural pattern to build 3D-printed structures, the researchers found that they could strengthen concrete overall and direct strength to where it’s needed for structural support.

“3D concrete printing technology has real potential to revolutionize the construction industry, and our aim is to bring that transformation closer,” said lead researcher Dr. Jonathan Tran, a senior lecturer at RMIT. “As lobster shells are naturally strong and naturally curved, we know this could help us deliver stronger concrete shapes like arches and flowing or twisted structures,” he added.

The researchers also found that adding a small share of steel fibers to the concrete mix has the potential to improve the material’s structural integrity even further. Next, the researchers will be testing concrete mixes that include recycled plastic waste.

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