3D Printing Green Cement Made From Industrial Waste

As a fast growing city Dubai has recently announced that it aims to 3D print 25 percent of its buildings by 2030, so it is no surprise that the start-up Renca cooperated with Dubai Municipality to develop a 3D-printable cement made from industrial by-products.


In times of rising environmental awareness, lifestyles become increasingly sustainable. This also affects our living situation and thus the way we build our houses. More and more contractors are searching for eco-friendly construction materials. This is also reflected by the fact that the global green cement market is expected to grow about 38.1 billion US dollars by 2024.

Add this to Dubai’s goal to become one of the most sustainable cities by 2020, it is no surprise that the start-up Renca cooperated with Dubai Municipality to develop a cement made from industrial waste. Still there is another reason that their invention seems perfect for the United Arab Emirates’ largest city: It is ideal for 3D printing projects. As a fast growing city Dubai has recently announced that it aims to 3D print 25 percent of its buildings by 2030.

The Magic Formula Behind The Geopolymer Cement

Let us start from the beginning: In 2016 Russian businessmen Andrey Dudnikov and Italian geologist Alex Reggiani teamed up to combine their expertise for creating the innovative 3D-printable concrete material. Their magic formula? The geopolymer cement consists of industrial by-products such as fly ash, a powder produced from burning pulverized coal, and granulated blast slag, a by-product of iron and steel manufacturing. All in all, the compound has at least 60 percent less impact on the environment than traditional cement since it is based on recycled materials. Additionally, it reduces carbon dioxide emissions by up to 90 percent.

The best about this green cement: It has a great variety of benefits. For example its chemical resistance, waterproof properties, and fast strength development. Providing better thermal insulation properties, it is also more resistant to heat. Consequently, houses made from this material are not only more energy-efficient and resource-saving. This feature makes it also better suited for hot environments, which Dubai as a Middle Eastern city offers naturally.

Geopolymer Cement: The Perfect Match for 3D Printing

But why does it fit perfectly for 3D printing projects? In order to make material 3D-printable “[i]t should be fluid enough for the 3D printer and it should set very quickly. When the first layer is in place, the second layer will come straight after. To achieve this with normal concrete you have to add a lot of additives, so it becomes expensive. With geopolymer concrete, you can adjust the properties of the cement with the amount of raw materials you add,” explains Renca’s co-founder Dudnikov. Since it does not need additives to work properly, geopolymer cement is thus cheaper to use in 3D printing than common cement. By easily reaching an ideal consistency for 3D printing, the construction time speeds up extremely: Houses can be built within hours!

So what could be more obvious than letting the Apis Cor 3D printer perform the first tests with the geocement. The Russian based company recently made headlines by 3D printing a house in only 24 hours. And the field trial demonstrated how efficient it really is. Now, Renca’s next step is to negotiate with local potential investors and eventually set up a production plant in Dubai.

Ink made from exhausted gases, trainers made from ocean waste and now a green cement made from industrial by-products: Do you know other ways how the printing industry contributes to saving the environment? We are looking forward to your input in the comment section.

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