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New additive manufacturing methods for cementitious materials hold a high potential to increase automation in the construction industry. However, these methods require new materials to be developed that meet performance requirements related to specific characteristics of the manufacturing process. The appropriate characterization methods of these materials are still a matter of debate. This study proposes a rheology investigation to systematically develop a printable strain hardening cementitious composite mix design. Two known mixtures were employed and the influence of several parameters, such as the water-to-solid ratio, fibre volume percentage and employment of chemical admixtures, were investigated using a ram extruder and Benbow-Bridgwater equation. Through printing trials, rheology parameters as the initial bulk and shear yield stress were correlated with variables commonly employed to assess printing quality of cementitious materials. The rheology properties measured were used to predict the number of layers a developed mixture could support. Selected mixtures had their mechanical performance assessed through four-point bending, uni-axial tensile and compressive strength tests, to confirm strain hardening behaviour was obtained. It was concluded that the presented experimental and theoretical framework are promising tools, as the bulk yield stress seems to predict buildability, while shear yield stress may indicate a threshold for pumpability.
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Accepted Manuscript
An approach to develop printable strain hardening cementitious
Stefan Chaves Figueiredo, Claudia Romero Rodríguez, Zeeshan
Y. Ahmed, D.H. Bos, Yading Xu, Theo M. Salet, Oğuzhan
Çopuroğlu, Erik Schlangen, Freek P. Bos
PII: S0264-1275(19)30088-7
Article Number: 107651
Reference: JMADE 07651
To appear in: Materials & Design
Received date: 23 October 2018
Revised date: 8 February 2019
Accepted date: 9 February 2019
Please cite this article as: S. Chaves Figueiredo, C. Romero Rodríguez, Z.Y. Ahmed, et al.,
An approach to develop printable strain hardening cementitious composites, Materials &
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An approach to develop printable strain hardening
cementitious composites
Stefan Chaves Figueiredoa,
, Claudia Romero Rodr´ıgueza, Zeeshan Y.
Ahmedb, D. H. Bosb, Yading Xua, Theo M. Saletb, guzhan C¸ opuro˘glua,
Erik Schlangena, Freek P. Bosb
aMicrolab, Faculty of Civil Engineering and Geosciences, Delft University of Technology,
Delft 2628, CN, The Netherlands
bDepartment of the Built Environment, Eindhoven University of Technology, Eindhoven,
The Netherlands
New additive manufacturing methods for cementitious materials hold a high
potential to increase automation in the construction industry. However,
these methods require new materials to be developed that meet perfor-
mance requirements related to specific characteristics of the manufacturing
process. The appropriate characterization methods of these materials are
still a matter of debate. This study proposes a rheology investigation to
systematically develop a printable strain hardening cementitious composite
mix design. Two known mixtures were employed and the influence of sev-
eral parameters, such as the water-to-solid ratio, fibre volume percentage
and employment of chemical admixtures, were investigated using a ram ex-
truder and Benbow-Bridgwater equation. Through printing trials, rheology
parameters as the initial bulk and shear yield stress were correlated with
variables commonly employed to assess printing quality of cementitious ma-
terials. The rheology properties measured were used to predict the number
of layers a developed mixture could support. Selected mixtures had their
mechanical performance assessed through four-point bending, uni-axial ten-
sile and compressive strength tests, to confirm strain hardening behaviour
was obtained. It was concluded that the presented experimental and the-
oretical framework are promising tools, as the bulk yield stress seems to
predict buildability, while shear yield stress may indicate a threshold for
Corresponding author
Email address: (Stefan Chaves Figueiredo)
Preprint submitted to Materials & Design February 15, 2019
3D printing, Rheology, Strain hardening, Additive manufacturing
1. Introduction
Over the last decades, the employment of automation at construction
sites has seen substantial achievements to enhance the productivity of the
sector [1, 2]. Management tools have allowed tasks and activities to become
more specialized and dynamic, thus providing an environment for shortening
of construction time and decreasing construction errors. The employment of
machinery to execute tasks on this industry was specially devoted to heavy
duties nevertheless, some other activities still rely on the skills of humans.
A relatively recent development has been the introduction of Additive
Manufacturing (AM) to the construction industry, also popularly known
as 3D printing. AM is a classification of manufacturing technologies that
fabricate objects by controlled, often layer-wise, addition of material, rather
than by removal of material from a larger piece of bulk material. Generally,
robotized equipment is applied that manufacture an object directly from
digital design input [3, 4]. For construction, advances are being made AM
of polymers [5], foams [6], glass [7], timber [8] and steel [9].
Developments have been particularly rapid for AM of concretes and
other cementitious materials (AMoC) for construction. Technologies under
development include the Stereolithography (STL) based D-shape process
[10], Contour Crafting (CC) [11], Concrete Printing (CP) [12], 3D Concrete
Printing (3DCP) [13], as well as the vertical extrusion based Smart Dynamic
Casting [14] and Mesh Mould [15], in which a mesh reinforcement acts as
the mould. Leaving the phase of showcasing the potential behind, described
in a range of publications [16–23], AMoC (also referred to as Digitally Fab-
ricated Concrete (DFC), to emphasize the automated production method)
has now entered in a period of first real uses [24], and commercial initiatives
abound (e.g. Contour Crafting, Total Kustom, WinSun, CyBe, Apis Cor,
XtreeE, Incremental 3D, COBOD, and others). Alternative techniques are
also available in which a mould of insulation material is printed and the
concrete is cast inside [25].
This requires the development of a whole new generation of materials
to meet both the manufacturing requirements (printability) as well as the
mechanical and durability demands of a long-lasting. Recent researches have
shown the development of cementitious composites with different aggregate
particle sizes [16]. In some studies, fibres have been incorporated to stabilize
the mixture at fresh state or to minimize the occurrence of cracks due to
shrinkage [26].
However, as has been pointed out by other researchers as well, the dif-
ferent technologies and materials under development still suffer from a ma-
jor drawback that forms an important obstacle for them to achieve their
potential which includes form freedom, reduced material use and labour,
decreased CO2emissions, and construction speed [27–31]. The print ma-
terials in AMoC, in general, have a low tensile strength compared to their
compressive strength. Furthermore, they are usually brittle and thus fail
relatively suddenly without large deformations. For structural use in con-
struction, this is unacceptable, as the conventional concepts, such as the use
of steel reinforcement bars, are either incompatible with AMoC or eliminate
its advantages. A number of innovative approaches have been presented to
overcome this problem, like the ones described by [32–34]. Further research
is needed to be able to fully assess their potential and applicability.
Including fibres in the print material is an obvious solution strategy,
too. It has been explored by Panda et al. [35], who compared glass fibres of
different lengths (3, 6 and 8 mm) and varying volume percentage of fibres.
Both studies reported a significant increase in flexural tensile strength, as
well as an orientation effect of the fibres in the direction of the filament
flow, but neither discussed the effects on ductility. Moreover, the use of
PVA fibres in printable cementitious mortars exposed to fire attack was
studied in [36]. In this case the authors have shown the advantages of using
fibres to enhance ductility but also to minimize the occurrence of spoling.
And recently the use of steel fibres to reinforce a printable mortar was also
explored in [37] .
Over the last decades, cementitious composites have been developed that
exhibit strain hardening behaviour [38, 39]. Their performance is based on
an optimized matrix composition, fibre performance, and matrix-to-fibre
bond, and are known as Engineered Cementitious Composites (ECCs) or
Strain Hardening Cementitious Composites (SHCCs). Significant plastic
deformations can be achieved, as well as a high tensile strain, strength, and
multiple crack development [40]. Resistance to quasi-static and dynamic
loading is generally high [41]. Jointly, this results in favourable structural
First results on the development of printable ECCs have been published
by Soltan & Li [42]. Based on considerations of extrudability (indicating
the ability of the mixture to pass through a printing system) and buildabil-
ity (indicating the ability of a mixture to remain stable after depositioning
and during printing), that together define the printability, they developed
several mixtures with polyvinylalcohol (PVA) fibres. The influence of sev-
eral ingredients on fresh state workability and processing parameters were
investigated. This resulted in at least one mixture that seems printable and
shows strain hardening failure behaviour. However, the assessment of fresh
state properties was based on the flow factor according to ASTM C1437 and
ASTM C230, which is not a true rheological property. Also, the real print-
ability was not truly yet established as only several layers were deposited
with a manual piston. Pending a more extensive publication, a brief descrip-
tion of results about the development of a printable SHCC with high-density
polyethylene (HDPE) fibres were given by [43].
The development of printable mix-designs is different from that of castable
concretes. The challenges are not restricted to the hardened properties:
competing requirements for extrudability and buildability have to be met as
well. Globally speaking, the material should be fluid enough to pass through
a print system without the use of excessive pressure and the occurrence of
ruptures and/or void, while exhibiting sufficient strength and stiffness af-
ter depositioning to avoid failure during printing or excessive geometrical
deformations. When both these requirements are met, the material can be
considered printable.
In order to evaluate the printability, different tests have been proposed,
such as the cylinder test [26], the slump of the fresh mixture in a shape of
a cylinder [44] or the slump of the printed layer itself [45]. In general, these
tests consist in measuring the slump of the fresh material with or without
a certain weight on top of it. However, such empirical tests do not result
in true physical properties that describe the rheological or mechanical be-
haviour of the material. Only recently, first attempts to analyse printability
in terms of physical rheology or mechanics properties have been presented
[46]. Suitable methodologies are still under development.
The requirements for materials employed in the process of manufacturing
an object in AMoC through a processes like 3DCP, are similar to those for
extrusion manufacturing, a process that is commonly used for several types
of concrete products. Although this has been acknowledged in some reports,
the mix-design often does not follow the procedure that is usually suggested
in the field of extrusion research [47]. Extruded cementitious mixtures can
be considered as solid suspensions. These highly concentrated suspensions
usually show dough-like texture. Therefore, the employment of conventional
shear-based rheometers is not always suitable. Slippage and plug-forming
of the evaluated mixture may lead to unreliable results [48]. Alternatively,
a ram extrusion rheometer can be used. Using the pressure measurements
from this device, true rheology parameters can be determined through the
Benbow-Bridgwater rheology model [49–51]. A more detailed explanation
of the model and the apparatus will be given in Sections 2 and 3.2.
As extrusion techniques are of great importance for the construction
industry, the ram extruder proposed by Benbow-Bridgwater was extensively
employed to quantify rheological parameters of different materials, amongst
which a vast number of ingredients for cementitious composites. Particularly
relevant to this study are reports on fibre reinforced mixtures, like the ones
found in [48, 52–54], with PVA fibres, or in [55, 56] with natural fibres, or
even with nano-fibres in [57]. The fresh state properties depend on several
factors, like the volume of liquid employed, the particle size distribution,
the volume of fibre reinforcement, time, and so on. Furthermore, rheology
modifiers are commonly reported to have been used in studies on extruded
fibre reinforced cementitious composites.
As SHCCs demonstrate enhanced mechanical performance in compari-
son to standard concrete or mortar, as well as superior durability properties
[58, 59], the systematic (i.e. based on true properties) development of print-
able SHCC mixtures can move AMoC forward. Therefore, this research
aimed to develop a printable SHCC mix-design based on the rheology prop-
erties measured with a ram extruder and determined through the Benbow-
Bridgwater model. To understand the meaning of the physical properties on
the flowability, visual inspections were performed on the extruded compos-
ite. A printability trial was subsequently conducted in a large scale 3DCP
facility, on selected mixtures to assess pumpability, extrudability, and build-
ability. After hardening, several mechanical properties were determined to
show the printable mixtures do indeed result in objects with strain-hardening
failure behaviour. Only a limited number of tensile test results are shown
here. The full results of the study on mechanical properties in the hardened
state will be subject of a future publication.
2. Theoretical background
Behaving rheologically as a Bingham fluid, cementitious materials can
have their yield stress measured. Measuring rheological properties of highly
concentrated particle suspensions through conventional shear based rheome-
ters has been shown as not the best approach [48, 60], and alternatives were
given in [49–51]. The Benbow-Bridgwater model, used commonly to study
fluids such as molten plastics, clay suspensions and prefabricated cementi-
tious material, is especially suitable for this work.
In order to evaluate the rheology of composites at the fresh state a ram
extruder was employed. The ram extruder is commonly composed of an
upper barrel, where the material is introduced first and a connected die
land, with smaller diameter, from which the material is extruded at last.
A piston, moving downwards, pushes the material from the upper barrel
through the die land. Coupling the total pressure drop in the die measured
with this device alongside the Benbow-Bridgwater model, a description of
the fluid rheology can be obtained. The total pressure drop in the die is
composed by the pressure drop of the fluid on the die entry and the pressure
drop on the die land. The pressure drop does not take in consideration any
pressure drop in the barrel, as it is neglectable [61]. Therefore, the total
pressure drop is given by the equation 1:
P=P1+P2= 2 ln( D
d)(σ0+αV ) + 4L
d(τ0+βV ) (1)
P = Total pressure drop [kPa]
P1= Pressure drop in the die entry [kPa]
P2= Pressure drop in the die land [kPa]
σ0= Bulk yield stress [kPa]
α= Parameter characterizing speed in the die entry [kPa.s/mm]
V = Extrusion speed in the die land [mm/s]
D = Barrel diameter [mm]
d = Die diameter [mm]
τ0= Shear yield stress [kPa]
β= Parameter characterizing speed in the die land [kPa.s/mm]
L = Die length [mm]
For the case of extruded paste developing pseudo-plastic behaviour the
influence of the extrusion speed on the total pressure drop is not linear.
For such cases, the Benbow-Bridgwater model is further enriched with the
coefficients m and n, as shown in equation 2 [61].
P=P1+P2= 2 ln( D
d)(σ0+αV m) + 4L
d(τ0+βV n) (2)
Rheological characterization of dough-like pastes are especially inter-
esting for extruded materials, as they must keep their shape after being
extruded. The resulting rheological properties are also very interesting for
printed cementitious composites. Initial shear and bulk yield stresses are
physical properties which can help quantifying important parameters for
the AM with counter craft technology. The shear yield stress quantifies the
friction of the material moving through the die while the bulk yield stress is
an intrinsic material property. These quantities can be related to the main
mixture requirements like shape stability and printability. Moreover, these
properties can also be useful to estimate the amount of layers the material
is able to support.
3. Experimental methods
3.1. Materials and sample preparation
Two SHCC mixtures from [62, 63] were chosen as a departure point for
the development of the SHCC mixtures for 3D printing. Both mixtures were
reinforced with 2% by volume of polyvinyl alcohol (PVA) fibres. The first
mixture matrix was composed by ordinary Portland cement (OPC), blast
furnace slag (BFS), and limestone powder (LP), while the second reported
mixture is composed by OPC, fly ash (FA) and sand. In order to increase the
amount of fines used in the second SHCC, additional LP was used. In table
2 and table 3 the composition of each mixture are detailed. Initially, the
rheology of their matrices (the composite without fibres) were studied. The
influence of viscosity modifying agent (VA), superplasticizer (SP), water-to-
solid ratio, PVA fibre volume and sand grain size on the fresh state properties
were investigated.
The chemical composition of powder materials and their loss on ignition
(LOI) can be found in table 1. They were assessed by X-ray fluorescence
analysis (XRF) and thermogravimetric analysis performed at 10 K/min un-
der Argon atmosphere. The LOI was calculated using the loss of mass
between 45 and 1000 C. The particle size distribution of the raw materials
can be found on figure 1.
VA with viscosity 201000 mPa.s was provided by Shanghai Ying Jia
Industrial Development Co., Ltd. SP used was a Glenium 51 obtained from
BASF with solid concentration of 35%.
For the rheology tests, a volume of 0.5 litres was mixed in a planetary
mixer according to the following procedure:
All dry materials were mixed for two minutes at low speed (speed 1 -
60 rpm);
While mixing at speed 1, during approximately one minute, water
mixed with SP was added;
The wet powders were mixed for the next two minutes at speed 1.
In this phase it was possible to observe a significant change in the
mixture’s viscosity. A dough like consistence was achieved;
Figure 1: Particle size distribution
At moderate speed (speed 2 - 124 rpm), the dough like mixture was
further mixed. At this phase the dough opens inside the mixing bowl,
and the fibres get dispersed.
3.2. Rheology measurements
In order to obtain the four parameters (σ0,α,τ0,β) describing the paste
flow a ram extruder was built. The design was based on the equipment
reported by [48, 50, 64] and can be found in figure 2. Three dies were
applied with an internal diameter of 12.8 mm and length-to-diameter (L/d)
ratios of 1, 4, and 8. The diameter of the piston (38.3 mm) was designed to
minimize friction with the internal walls of the barrel (D = 38.4 mm) and
to fit on an servo-hydraulic press (Instron 8872). Besides that, a Fluon R
(polytetrafluoroethylene) ring was used as the end of the piston to seal the
gap between walls and minimizing friction. During the tests this region was
always lubricated with a silicone release compound (Dow Corning 7, Dow
Corning R
). For each new experiment the piston and the ring were removed
from the Instron actuator and washed with tap water and soap.
The ram extruder barrel was filled with the mixture under evaluation.
For each portion placed inside the barrel, compaction with the help of a 30
mm diameter steel rod was done. Compaction of the paste inside of the
Figure 2: Ram extruder and components.
Table 1: Chemical composition of powder raw materials
Compound CEM I
42.5 N [%]
Fly Ash
Blast Furnace
Slag [%]
Powder [%]
CaO 69.53 5.30 42.00 55.80
SiO215.6 53.23 30.73 0.28
Fe2O33.84 7.77 0.54 0.03
Al2O33.09 26.67 13.30 -
SO32.6 0.81 1.45 -
MgO 1.67 1.27 9.44 0.14
K2O 0.55 1.42 0.34 -
TiO20.31 1.22 1.01 -
P2O50.14 0.25 - -
Rest 0.53 0.52 0.62 0.03
Loss on Ignition 2.14 1.55 0.57 43.71
barrel is important to avoid big pockets of air which would result in drastic
drop on the pressure during the extrusion experiment. As soon as the barrel
was filled, the piston was attached to the Instron actuator. Four different
speeds of the piston were used by controlling the displacement rate of the
Instron actuator while the reaction force to the imposed displacement of the
fluid was measured by a load cell. This load was used to calculate the total
pressure applied to the fluid. In figure 3 an example of the output data
from the experiment is given. The ram extruder experiment was performed
four times for each die. The first extrusion was not considered for the test,
as its only function was to aid with the appropriate filling of the die. Hence,
an average of the pressure at each extrusion speed of the three repetitions
was used in the calculation.
From equation 2 a linear relation between the total pressure applied on
the fluid and L/d ratios was obtained. Curve fitting employing a least square
method was used for each of the curves in order to obtain the rheology
parameters that characterize the fluid. As the experiment was done for
four different extrusion speeds and three L/d ratio, an average of each of
the components (σ0,α, m, τ0,βand n) could be obtained. Figure 4
exemplifies the linear curve of total pressure drop versus L/d obtained from
the experiment.
Table 2: Mix design summary of X series in [kg/m3]
powder PVA VA Superplasticizer
(Glenium 51) [g] Water
XVA1 265.2 618.9 884.2 0 1.8 17.7 353.7
XVA2 264.9 618.0 882.9 0 3.6 17.7 353.2
XVA3 264.5 617.2 881.7 0 5.2 17.6 352.7
XVA4 264.1 616.3 880.5 0 7.0 17.6 352.2
XVA3SP1 266.7 622.2 888.9 0 5.3 8.9 355.5
XVA3SP3 262.4 612.3 874.7 0 5.2 26.2 349.9
XVA3W1 224.9 524.7 749.6 0 4.5 15.0 449.7
XVA3PVA10 261.9 611.0 872.9 13.0 5.2 17.5 349.2
XVA3PVA15 260.6 608 868.5 19.5 5.2 17.4 347.4
XVA3PVA20 259.2 604.9 864.1 26 5.1 17.3 345.6
XVA4PVA20 258.9 604 862.9 26 6.9 17.3 345.2
Table 3: Mix design summary of Y series in [kg/m3]
Sand (125
- 250)µm
Sand (250
- 500)µm
Sand (500
- 1000)µmPVA VA Superplasticizer
(Glenium 51) [g] Water
YVA1 492.0 581.4 111.8 110.4 174.3 207.3 0 1.7 13.3 335.4
YVA2 491.4 580.7 111.7 110.3 174.1 207 0 3.3 13.3 335.0
YVA3 490.7 579.9 111.5 110.1 173.8 206.7 0 5 13.3 334.5
YVA4 490.0 579.1 111.4 110.0 173.6 206.4 0 6.7 13.3 334.1
YVA3SP1 493.7 583.5 112.2 110.8 174.9 208 0 5 6.6 336.6
YVA3SP3 487.8 576.5 110.9 109.5 172.8 205.5 0 5 19.8 332.5
YVA3W1 420.4 496.8 95.5 94.4 148.9 177.1 0 4.3 11.4 429.9
YVA3PVA10 485.8 574.1 110.4 109 172.1 204.7 13.0 4.9 13.2 331.2
YVA3PVA15 483.3 571.2 109.8 108.5 171.2 203.6 19.5 4.9 13.1 329.5
YVA3PVA20 480.9 568.3 109.3 107.9 170.4 202.6 26 4.9 13.0 327.8
YVA3PVA20-S05 480.9 568.4 109.3 186.5 294.4 0 26 4.9 13.0 327.9
YVA4PVA20-S05 480.2 567.6 109.1 186.3 294 0 26 6.5 13.0 327.4
Figure 3: An example of the output data from one of the rheology experiments employing
the ram extruder.
Figure 4: An example of the curve fitting employing a least square method of the total
pressure drop and L/d ratio.
3.3. Printing trials
After the rheological characterization, printing trials were performed to
assess the actual printability of the material. First, an initial test of the
pumpability and extrudability was performed on 6 of the developed mixtures
that were expected to show sufficient buildability based on their rheological
characterization, as assessed both through visual inspection and their quan-
titative properties. The purpose of this trial was to establish whether the de-
veloped mixtures were compatible with the equipment, particularly whether
the fibres would not cause blockage in the linear displacement pump, which
features narrow cavities. Based on the observations in this initial trial, one
mixture was subsequently selected for an object printing experiment.
For the preceding initial trials, mixed batches of the selected mixtures
were fed to the pumping unit of the mixer-pump that is part of the 3DCP
print facility of the Eindhoven University of Technology (TU/e) as described
by [16]. The mixer unit of the mixer-pump was bypassed as the extent
of mixing provided by this unit is insufficient for the developed mixtures.
Therefore, batches were mixed using the procedure that was also applied
for the rheological tests, and material from the mixed batch was inserted
into the pumping unit of the mixer pump. The pump was connected to a 5
m, ø 2.5 cm hose. It was observed whether the material would be pumped
without clogging, and whether the material could be transported through
the hose.
In the object printing experiment, the TU/e 3DCP print facility, shown
in Figure 5, was used in its entirety (except, again, for the mixing unit of
the mixer-pump). The mixer-pump was connected to the print head with
the standard 10 m, ø 2.5 cm hose. The standard print nozzle with a 40 ×
10 mm mouth opening was used. Cylinder shapes with a print path (heart
line) diameter of 500 mm were printed until failure. The appropriate print
speed was established as 5000 mm/min (or 83.3 mm/s). The print time of
a single layer, thus, was approximately 0.31 min (or 19 s). This geometry
has been used previously by [65] to study buildability of another mixture.
Overall behaviour was visually recorded and the number of stacked layers
before failure counted.
3.4. Mechanical tests
The composites reinforced with 2% by volume of PVA fibres were also
evaluated mechanically, to verify whether strain hardening failure behaviour
had indeed be obtained. For these cases, a volume of 3 litres was mixed
following the same procedure described earlier. Four-point bending, and
Figure 5: 3D Concrete Printing facility of the Eindhoven University of Technology (TU/e)
(taken from: [16])
compressive tests were performed to evaluate the performance of the com-
posite. Motivated by the outcomes of the research at the rheology measure-
ment stage, only YVA4PVA20-S05 and XVA3PVA20 mixtures were chosen
to have their tensile behaviour tested.
The samples were cast and kept sealed in their moulds for three days.
Afterwards, they were demoulded and cured in a curing room at (20 ±2) C
and relative humidity of (98 ±2)%. The compressive strength was measured
at 14 and 28 days on 35 mm cubes, sawn from 40×40×160 mm beams.
The samples for four-point bending test were sawn from 180×180×10 mm
slabs, with approximate dimensions of 180×40×10 mm and tested at 28
days of curing. Finally, the samples for direct tensile test were sawed from
240×60×10 mm slabs, in the end reaching final dimensions of 150×40×10
mm and tested at 35 days of curing. The compressive test was done at
loading rate of 2 kN/s. The four-point bending, with a test spam of 12 mm,
and tensile tests were performed on the same servo-hydraulic Instron 8872
machine in which the extrusion tests were done. The employed deflection
rate for the four-point bending was 0.01 mm/s and the tensile elongation rate
was 1 µm/s, controlled by linear variable differential transformer (LVDT)
sensors. It is important to observe that the specimens tested on uni-axial
tensile test had upper and lower side glued on steel plates. The lower side
was glued inside the servo-hydraulic machine to avoid bending while testing.
Due to the high viscosity of the mixtures obtaining a homogeneous thick-
ness while casting the samples was difficult, especially for the four-point
bending specimens. Therefore, prior to the mechanical tests each individual
specimen was measured at several locations.
Specimens undergoing tensile test had their frontal surface prepared for
employment of digital image correlation (DIC). Their surface was painted
white and randomly distributed black dots were made with a permanent
marker. This pattern helps enhancing the contrast needed for the DIC soft-
ware to calculate the displacements during test. The open source software
Ncorr2 was employed for the DIC [66]. A Cannon camera model EOS 6D
with Tamron aspherical 28 - 75mm lens were employed to obtain one pic-
ture each two seconds of test. An approximate resolution of 48µm/pixel was
4. Results
4.1. Rheology
The six parameters-approach according to equation 2 was chosen to char-
acterize all mixtures, as a non-linear behaviour was identified. Figure 6
illustrates the increase of total pressure of different extrusion speeds. In the
following subsections, the influence of each of the mixture variables (viscos-
ity modifier agent, water content, superplasticizer, and fibres) is detailed. A
summary of all results is shown in table 4.
4.1.1. Effect of VA content
The effect of VA was investigated on matrix level. Four dosages of
methylcellulose were employed: 0.1, 0.2, 0.3 and 0.4% of the total solids
weight. The water-to-solid ratio and superplasticizer added were kept con-
stant at 0.2 and 2% by total powder weight, respectively.
For both matrices, the increase of VA content directly influenced the
initial bulk and shear yield stresses, as is visually shown in figure 7, and
quantitatively compared in figure 8. The increase in these rheological pa-
rameters have direct effect on the shape stability of the printed material.
Therefore, the employment of VA can contribute positively to the develop-
ment of printable mix designs. Greater rheological parameters values were
obtained for the X matrix, indicating that solid suspensions with smaller
liquid-to-particles surface area ratio are more vulnerable to changes in the
viscosity of the liquid phase. This result is important to show how sensi-
tive highly concentrated solid solutions, like the ones obtained for SHCCs
or macro defect free cementitious composites, are to the adjustment of VA
Table 4: Summary with all measured rheology parameters
Mixtures α[kPa.s/mm] β[kPa.s/mm] σ0[kPa] τ0[kPa] m n
XVA1 0.88 ±0.09 0.14 ±0.02 8.74 ±0.90 0.42 ±0.21 0.26 ±0.02 0.24 ±0.09
XVA2 0.93 ±0.17 0.39 ±0.10 9.33 ±1.66 2.03 ±0.41 0.28 ±0.04 0.69 ±0.05
XVA3 1.30 ±0.42 0.69 ±0.01 13.06 ±4.18 3.44 ±0.06 0.35 ±0.08 0.81 ±0.01
XVA4 2.10 ±0.44 0.87 ±0.05 21.07 ±4.38 4.36 ±0.27 0.49 ±0.08 0.92 ±0.03
XVA3SP1 2.43 ±0.41 0.94 ±0.06 24.11 ±4.28 4.68 ±0.30 0.55 ±0.07 0.96 ±0.04
XVA3SP3 0.20 ±0.12 0.75 ±0.04 1.99 ±1.21 3.74 ±0.18 0.12 ±0.03 0.85 ±0.02
XVA3W1 0.78 ±0.03 0.15 ±0.01 7.77 ±0.26 0.50 ±0.12 0.24 ±0.01 0.28 ±0.05
XVA3PVA10 3.09 ±0.54 0.42 ±0.10 30.90 ±5.42 2.07 ±0.48 0.68 ±0.09 0.63 ±0.06
XVA3PVA15 3.23 ±0.58 0.46 ±0.11 32.25 ±5.76 2.32 ±0.56 0.70 ±0.10 0.66 ±0.07
XVA3PVA20 3.45 ±0.51 0.51 ±0.10 34.52 ±5.06 2.53 ±0.52 0.74 ±0.08 0.69 ±0.06
XVA4PVA20 3.93 ±0.80 0.97 ±0.05 39.03 ±8.31 4.87 ±0.26 0.81 ±0.14 0.98 ±0.03
YVA1 0.41 ±0.07 0.18 ±0.02 4.08 ±0.72 0.74 ±0.20 0.17 ±0.02 0.37 ±0.09
YVA2 0.61 ±0.05 0.23 ±0.02 6.04 ±0.54 1.13 ±0.12 0.21 ±0.01 0.51 ±0.07
YVA3 0.70 ±0.06 0.34 ±0.05 7.03 ±0.63 1.85 ±0.12 0.23 ±0.01 0.71 ±0.10
YVA4 0.79 ±0.08 0.50 ±0.01 7.92 ±0.83 2.52 ±0.07 0.25 ±0.02 0.70 ±0.01
YVA3SP1 1.33 ±0.10 0.23 ±0.01 13.26 ±1.02 1.25 ±0.06 0.36 ±0.02 0.59 ±0.04
YVA3SP3 0.82 ±0.06 0.21 ±0.02 8.17 ±0.63 0.99 ±0.19 0.25 ±0.01 0.47 ±0.08
YVA3W1 0.70 ±0.07 0.100 ±0.001 6.88 ±0.73 0.102 ±0.004 0.23 ±0.01 0.101 ±0.002
YVA3PVA10 1.65 ±0.15 0.28 ±0.03 16.46 ±1.47 1.40 ±0.15 0.43 ±0.03 0.56 ±0.01
YVA3PVA15 2.09 ±0.23 0.32 ±0.03 20.88 ±2.28 1.59 ±0.14 0.51 ±0.04 0.57 ±0.02
YVA3PVA20 2.92 ±0.18 0.19 ±0.03 29.22 ±1.83 0.90 ±0.18 0.65 ±0.03 0.46 ±0.04
YVA4PVA20 3.60 ±0.19 0.50 ±0.02 35.96 ±1.90 2.51 ±0.08 0.77 ±0.03 0.69 ±0.01
YVA3PVA20S05 2.56 ±0.19 0.43 ±0.02 25.63 ±1.89 2.16 ±0.09 0.59 ±0.03 0.65 ±0.01
YVA4PVA20S05 3.43 ±0.20 0.50 ±0.02 34.26 ±1.98 2.49 ±0.08 0.74 ±0.03 0.69 ±0.01
Figure 6: An example total pressure on the fluid measured for different extrudate veloci-
4.1.2. Effect of water content
The influence of extra water in the mixtures was investigated at matrix
level. By keeping the superplasticizer and methylcellulose constant, the
effect of increasing the water-to-solid ratio from 0.2 to 0.3 was investigated.
As expected, a higher volume of water in the solution changes signif-
icantly the flowability of mixtures where the amount of liquid to wet the
surfaces of the particles is already limited. Therefore, the decrease of X
series’ bulk yield stress was considerably larger than the one observed for
SMCE, as reported on figure 10. Anyhow, as the amount of liquid to lubri-
cate the movement of the particles against each other is higher, the largest
influence of the increase of the amount of water on the mixture can be ob-
served on the shear yield stress. The influence of the water-to-solid ratio on
the paste fluidity can be observed in figure 9.
4.1.3. Effect of superplasticizer content
A subsequent investigation targeted the effect of the superplasticizer
dosage at 1, 2, and 3% of the total powder phase. Keeping constant the
percentages of methylcellulose and water-to-solid ratio it could be noticed
that the influence on the rheology properties were not as remarkable as the
(a) XVA1 (b) XVA2 (c) XVA3 (d) XVA4
(e) YVA1 (f ) YVA2 (g) YVA3 (h) YVA4
Figure 7: Visual inspection of extruded material with different amounts of VA.
Figure 8: A summary of the effect of VA content on initial bulk and shear yield stress.
(a) XVA3 (b) XVA3W1 (c) YVA3 (d) YVA3W1
Figure 9: Visual inspection of extruded material for different water-to-solid ratio.
Figure 10: A summary of the effect of water-to-solid ratio on initial bulk and shear yield
one measured when the water-to-solid ratio was investigated.
The initial bulk yield stress increased or decreased whenever the amount
of superplasticizer was changed from 1 to 3% (figure 12). However, a de-
crease of approximately 32% of the initial shear yield stress when 1% of
superplasticizer was employed on Y matrix was measured. This decrease
might be correlated with the excess of liquid present in this solid suspen-
sion, as the particle size went up to 1 mm and there is a considerable high
usage of fly ash. Visually, the influence of the amount of superplasticizer
can be observed in figure 11.
4.1.4. Effect of PVA fibre reinforcement
As described in the introduction, the goal of this research was to de-
velop a printable SHCC mix design. Therefore, the influence of 1.0, 1.5 and
2.0% by total volume of fibre reinforcement on the above described matrices
was studied. For both matrices (X and Y) the content of superplasticizer,
methylcellulose and water-to-solid ratio were chosen to be 2%, 0.3% and 0.2
For both mixtures, the fibre reinforcement increased considerably the
initial bulk and shear yield stresses. The values of σ0at least doubled when
the fibre reinforcement was incorporated, as can be seen on figure 14. Zhou
(a) XVA3SP1 (b) XVA3 (c) XVA3SP3 (d) YVA3SP1
(e) YVA3 (f) YVA3SP3
Figure 11: Visual inspection of extruded material for different SP concentrations.
Figure 12: A summary of the effect of SP content on initial bulk and shear yield stress.
et al. 2005, explained this behaviour by attributing this increase to the raise
of friction between fibres and particles in the matrix while the mixture is
being extruded.
However, when the rheological properties of both mixtures were ob-
served with the increasing volume of fibres, they demonstrated a different
behaviour. The increased volume of fibres did not significantly change σ0
and τ0for the X composites. On the other hand, the enlarged volume of
reinforcement in the Y matrix significantly increased σ0. These dissimilar
effects can be attributed to the different particle size distributions of the
respective composites. The X matrix was tailored to minimize the space
between all the composing matrix particles, including the fibres. The Y ma-
trix, on the other hand, presents larger gaps between the aggregates, where
the increasing volume of fibres can be allocated. Visual inspections can be
done with the help of figure 13. There the shape stability of the extruded
filaments as well as the influence of the volume of fibre reinforcement and
0.4% of VA can be assessed. Comparing the rheological results obtained
and summarized in figure 14 with the images in figure 13, provides a clear
correlation between the shape stability and the increase values of initial bulk
yield stress.
(a) XVA3PVA10 (b) XVA3PVA15 (c) XVA3PVA20 (d) XVA4PVA20
(e) YVA3PVA10 (f) YVA3PVA15 (g) YVA3PVA20 (h) YVA4PVA20
Figure 13: Visual inspection of extruded material for different levels of PVA fibre rein-
Figure 14: A summary of the effect of PVA fibres volume on initial bulk and shear yield
4.1.5. Effect of sand maximum grain size on Y reinforced by 2% of PVA
Although the TU/e 3DCP facility [32] is capable of processing mixtures
with a particle size of up to 2 mm, it was observed in preliminary trials that
the probability of blockage in the pump system significantly decreased when
a less viscous mixture was used or the maximum grain size was reduced.
However, during the trials only with the pump, the probability of blockage
was considerably higher when aggregates up to 1 mm were employed. This
risk was only decreased when a less viscous mixture was employed at the
expense of worsening the shape stability. As reported above, if more water
or superplasticizer is added to this mixture the consequences would be the
decrease on the initial bulk and shear yield stresses. Hence, those changes
would lead to losses on the shape stability culminating with a less stable
mixture which could segregate while the composite is pumped.
Therefore, the influence of the maximum grain size of sand used on Y
composites was evaluated through the rheological parameters. Mixtures em-
ploying 0.3 and 0.4 wt.% of the total solid content of VA, with the maximum
sand grain size of 0.5 mm, and keeping 2% of PVA fibres by volume, 2%
of superplasticizer by total solid weight and 0.2 water-to-solid ratio were
(a) YVA3PVA20 (b) YVA4PVA20 (c) YVA3PVA20S05 (d) YVA4PVA20S05
Figure 15: Visual inspection of extruded material for sand maximum grain size of 0.5 mm
and 1 mm.
The results showed that by decreasing the maximum grain size of the
sand slightly lowered the bulk yield stress of composites with 0.3 wt.% of
VA, as it can be seen on figure 16. However, when employing 0.4 wt.% of
VA, the values of σ0remained in the same range as the ones observed for
composites employing 1 mm sand. Furthermore, the τ0of composites with
0.3% of VA increased considerably in comparison with composites with 1
mm sand. This result demonstrates that the use of smaller maximum grain
size for sand contributes to the development of a more packed composite
with an initial bulk yield stress comparable to what was obtained for the X
mixtures. In figure 15, the influence of the sand grain size and the amount
of VA can be observed.
4.2. Printing experiments
4.2.1. Initial trial
Based on the visual assessment and quantitative rheology properties,
six mixtures were selected for the initial trial with the pump and a 5 m
hose. The results are summarized in table 5. Two mixtures could not be
pumped as they led to blockage of the linear displacement pump. It could
therefore not be established whether they could be extruded through the 5
m hose. The blockages were likely caused by the maximum grain size of the
respective mixtures that turned out to be incompatible with the pumping
system. Excessive bulk and shear yield stresses of these mixtures were not
the cause, as they were in the same range as those of the other mixtures.
One other (XVA4PVA20) could pass through the pump, but generated
too much friction in the hose to be transported through it. This seems to
Figure 16: A summary of the effect on PVA fibres volume.
Table 5: Results of initial pumpability and extrudability trials.
Mixture σ0[kPa] τ0[kPa] mixture can pass through...
pump 5 m hose
XVA3PVA20 34.74 ±5.20 4.41 ±0.18 X X
XVA4PVA20 39.03 ±8.31 4.87 ±0.26 X×
YVA3PVA20 29.22 ±1.83 0.90 ±0.18 ×(n/a)
YVA4PVA20 35.96 ±1.90 2.51 ±0.08 ×(n/a)
YVA3PVA20S05 25.63 ±1.89 2.16 ±0.09 X X
YVA4PVA20S05 34.26 ±1.98 2.49 ±0.08 X X
correspond to a limit of shear yield stress having been exceeded for the sys-
tem to which the mixture was applied, as it is higher than that of three
mixtures that could both be pumped and transported. Further experiments
are required to further elucidate the apparent relations between the rheo-
logical parameters bulk and shear yield stress on one hand, and mixture
behaviour in the printing process.
Considering these results, for printing, the mixture with the highest bulk
yield stress that still fulfils the pumpability and extrudability requirement
(i.e. does not exceed the shear yield stress limit), should be selected, as it
should result in optimal buildability. Thus, two mixtures (XVA3PVA20 and
YVA4PVA20-S05) seem to be comparably suitable. Their shape stability is
also visually apparent from the rheology tests, as shown in figure 13(c) and
15(d). For practical purposes, the YVA4PVA20-S05 mixture was selected
for the object printing experiment. The third mixture (YVA3PVA20-S05),
whilst being pumpable, was expected to have lower buildability due to the
lower bulk yield stress, and was thus disregarded.
4.2.2. Object printing experiment
Analysis methods to predict the buildability are still under development.
Wolfs et al. [65] have presented a solid mechanics based approach consider-
ing both stability and material failure effects, whereas others (Roussel, 2018
[67]) have proposed a rheology based failure criterion. As the print material
develops from a highly viscous to a solid state after deposition, both ap-
proaches have merit. An extensive discussion of this issue falls outside the
scope of this study. For now, a rheology based approximation of the expected
buildability was calculated to be 17 layers, based on the measured bulk yield
stress of (34.26 ±1.98) kPa, an assumed mass density of 2,000 kg/m3, and
an average layer height of 0.01 m. The mixture has an excessive open time
of more than 12 hours. Therefore, structural build-up during printing was
ignored in this estimation. The progress of the object printing experiment
is shown in figure 17. The object collapsed during printing of the 14th layer.
The calculated 17 layers apparently is a considerable overestimation, but it
is nevertheless in the same order of magnitude. The deviation is likely due
to stability effects that depend on the 3D geometry, density variations, and
dynamically changing loads caused by the deposition of the print filament.
It may nevertheless be concluded that the mixture is printable, and further
adaptations of it should be considered to improve buildability.
(a) 3rd layer (b) 6th layer (c) 9th layer
(d) 13th layer (e) 14th layer
Figure 17: Cylinder printing test.
4.3. Mechanical properties
Among all evaluated mixtures, only those reinforced by 2 vol.% of fibres
were evaluated mechanically. The influence of 0.3 and 0.4% by solid weight
of VA, as well as the maximum grain size of the sand, were evaluated through
compressive strength and four-point bending tests.
All tested mixtures delivered flexural hardening and developed a ductile
behaviour, as given in Figure 18. Nevertheless, multiple cracks were more
often observed in X series and in mixtures in which the smaller grain size
of the sand was employed. This behaviour was expected since the size of
aggregates influences the number of cracks and the crack pattern, as demon-
strated by [68]. Additionally, larger aggregates can also make the dispersion
of fibres more difficult, decreasing the number of fibres effectively bridg-
ing the cracks [69]. Figure 19 summarizes the results from the four-point
bending test.
Meanwhile, the compressive strength values of all analysed mixtures,
listed in table 6, were significantly higher for X’s, in comparison with the
Ys. The amount of VA employed in the composites did not significantly
influenced the compressive strength or the flexural behaviour of the analysed
composites, with exception of the ones with sand up to 0.5 mm. Only in
this case, composites with 0.4 wt.% of VA delivered higher performance.
As demonstrated, the mechanical performance was not influenced by the
amount of VA employed on X mixtures and 0.4 wt.% improves Y-S05 series.
Moreover, as discussed in the previous section, only XVA3PVA20 and
YVA4PVA20-S05 were suitable for printing. Therefore, only these two mix-
Figure 18: An example from the obtained flexural hardening behaviour obtained from
mixture XVA3PVA20
Figure 19: Average performance on four point bending test of selected mixtures.
Table 6: Compressive strength performance [MPa]
Mix design Load perpendicular to
the casting direction
Load parallel to the
casting direction
XVA3 41.12 ±4.18 41.71 ±3.21
XVA4 38.26 ±5.48 37.76 ±3.45
YVA3 15.89 ±0.95 14.37 ±1.81
YVA4 14.49 ±1.48 14.78 ±1.3
YVA3S05 8.39 ±1.82 8.49 ±0.5
YVA4S05 15.47 ±0.65 15.84 ±1.58
tures were chosen to be investigated employing an uni-axial tensile test, in
order to confirm their strain hardening and multiple crack behaviour. In
figures 20 and 21 the ”tensile stress versus strain” curve of both mixtures
are plotted. It could be confirmed that the modified composites mix-design
also showed high ductility and strain hardening behaviour.
In figures 22, 23, 24, 25 the last picture from the DIC analyses are
shown. In pictures depicting the vertical displacements only elongations
were shown. Regions in blue suffered less deformation than regions with
colours closer to red, where the cracks are. On pictures showing the hori-
zontal displacements elongations and compressions are shown. There, zero
displacements were demonstrated with yellow colours with elongations been
demonstrated in red and compressions in blue. Through the DIC analysis
the horizontal displacements could also be captured. Where the cracks were
concentrated it was possible to observe areas with compressive values and
some others in tension. These regions are believed to have fibres oriented
with different angles, which emphasizes the importance of fibre dispersion
in this type of composite. It is possible to observe that all samples devel-
oped at least two cracks, and specimens from the X series resulted in higher
tensile performances and considerably greater number of cracks.
5. Conclusions
Through the experimental procedure carried out in this study, a method-
ology was presented to develop printable cementitious composite mix-designs
based on fundamental rheological properties. The influence of rheology mod-
ifiers on the fresh and hardened state were evaluated for application in high
performance cementitious composites. Visual inspection together with rhe-
ology parameters evaluation were employed to obtain an optimized SHCC
Figure 20: Tensile performance of X series.
Figure 21: Tensile performance of Y series.
(a) Specimen 1 (b) Specimen 2 (c) Specimen 3 (d) Specimen 4 (e) Specimen 5
Figure 22: Crack pattern obtained from DIC analysis on X samples - Horizontal Defor-
(a) Specimen 1 (b) Specimen 2 (c) Specimen 3 (d) Specimen 4 (e) Specimen 5
Figure 23: Crack pattern obtained from DIC analysis on X samples - Vertical Deforma-
(a) Specimen1 (b) Specimen 2 (c) Specimen 3 (d) Specimen 4 (e) Specimen 5
Figure 24: Crack pattern obtained from DIC analysis on Y samples - Horizontal Defor-
(a) Specimen 1 (b) Specimen 2 (c) Specimen 3 (d) Specimen 4 (e) Specimen 5
Figure 25: Crack pattern obtained from DIC analysis on Y samples - Vertical Deforma-
mixture in terms of printability, shape stability and strain hardening be-
haviour. Printing experiments were conducted to compare the pumpability
and extrudability of various mixtures. One mixture was used to print an ob-
ject and evaluate buildability. Mechanical tests were performed to confirm
the strain hardening behaviour of the developed mixtures. In summary the
following conclusions can be drawn:
Ram extruder with the Benbow-Bridgwater model are appropriate
tools to develop printable cementitious composites. However, it is im-
portant to notice that the method has limitations. One example was
the inability to predict the blockage of some mixtures in the pump;
The employment of rheology modifiers is crucial for the development
of high ductility cementitious composites, with dough-like consistency
in the fresh state;
The liquid-to-solid ratio of the solid suspension is more relevant to the
shape stability of printable mixtures, than the amount of superplasti-
For the development of a printable cementitious mixtures, the particle
size distribution and the liquid-to-total surface area of all solids is more
relevant than the employment of rheology modifiers;
The amount of rheology modifiers employed in the mix did not signif-
icantly influence the mechanical properties of most evaluated compos-
XVA3PVA20 and YVA4PVA20-S05 are composites which have proven
to have high mechanical performance and superior printing quality and
therefore, must be considered for further developments in the construc-
tion printing industry.
6. Acknowledgements
This study was performed as part of the 2017 4.TU Lighthouse project
3D Concrete Printing for Structural Applications, that was performed jointly
by the Eindhoven and Delft Universities of Technology. The support of the
4.TU Federation is gratefully acknowledged
In addition, the first author would like to acknowledge the funding from
Science Without Borders from the National Council for Scientific and Tech-
nological Development of Brazil (201620/2014-6). The second author ac-
knowledges the financial support from the Construction Technology Re-
search Program funded by the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Trans-
port of the Korean Government under the grant 17SCIP-B103706-03. The
fifth author acknowledges the financial support from China Scholarship
Council (CSC) under the grant CSC No.201708110187.
The concrete printing was performed at the Eindhoven University of
Technology (TU/e) 3D Concrete Printing (3DCP) Facility. The TU/e re-
search program on 3DCP is co-funded by a partner group of enterprises
and associations, that on the date of writing consisted of (alphabetical or-
der) Ballast Nedam, BAM Infraconsult bv, Bekaert, Concrete Valley, CRH,
Cybe, Saint-Gobain Weber Beamix, SGS Intron, SKKB, Van Wijnen, Ver-
hoeven Timmerfabriek, and Witteveen+Bos. Their support is gratefully
Finally, the authors acknowledge the support of Kuraray by providing
the PVA fibres used in this study.
7. Data availability
The raw/processed data required to reproduce these findings cannot be
shared at this time as the data also forms part of an ongoing study.
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CRediT author statement
Stefan Chaves Figueiredo: Conceptualization; Methodology; Software; Validation; Formal
Analysis; Investigation; Data Curation; Writing – Original Draft; Writing – Review & Editing;
Claudia Romero Rodríguez: Conceptualization; Methodology; Validation; Investigation; Writing
– Original Draft; Writing – Review & Editing;
Zeeshan Y. Ahmed: Validation; Investigation; Resources
D. H. Bos: Investigation
Yading Xu: Validation; Investigation; Writing – Review & Editing;
Theo M. Salet: Resources; Supervision;
Oğuzhan Çopuroğlu: Resources; Writing – Review & Editing; Supervision;
Erik Schlangen: Resources; Writing – Review & Editing; Supervision;
Freek P. Bos: Investigation; Resources; Writing – Original Draft; Writing – Review & Editing;
Graphical abstract
A quantitative methodology based on rheological parameters to develop printable
cementitious composites is presented;
The methodology was successfully applied to the development of strain hardening
cementitious composites, thereby addressing the key issue of lack of ductility found in
most concrete printing processes
A correlation between shape stability and buildability with the initial bulk yield stress was
found. Therefore, a quantitative analysis for these parameters might be possible;
The use of viscosity modifier admixtures and the total liquid-to-solid ratio are key factors
to control the mixture stability and the fibre dispersion of a cementitious composite;
Rheological properties measured with the ram extruder coupled with the Benbow-
Bridgwater model can indicate the achievable build height of an object being printed.
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... When it comes to the extrusion-based 3DCP process, the extrudability of material depends on the material characteristics, process parameters, as well as the extruder setup as described in previous sections. Therefore, many researchers found the ram extrusion method as a potential rheological characterization method to define the rheological parameters which are important in characterizing the extrudability of the 3DCP material [15,16,[107][108][109][110][111]. Alfani et al. [29] reviewed possible testing methods for extrudable cement-based material and mentioned the ram extruder as a promising test method specific to extrudable cementitious material. ...
... In addition, the usage of the orifice extrusion is simple due to disregarding the shaping force (i.e., the friction forces acting on the material/die interface and the force required for the internal bulk deformation). However, for 3DCP applications that consist of different types of nozzles, the shaping force component and the shear yield stress can also be of importance [107,110]. Figueiredo et al. [110] proposed that the uniaxial yield stress has a direct correlation with the buildability of the mix component in 3DCP (the higher the uniaxial yield stress, the higher the buildability). The shear yield stress derived from the ram extrusion test provides a threshold value for the pumpability of the mix according to the same study. ...
... However, for 3DCP applications that consist of different types of nozzles, the shaping force component and the shear yield stress can also be of importance [107,110]. Figueiredo et al. [110] proposed that the uniaxial yield stress has a direct correlation with the buildability of the mix component in 3DCP (the higher the uniaxial yield stress, the higher the buildability). The shear yield stress derived from the ram extrusion test provides a threshold value for the pumpability of the mix according to the same study. ...
Full-text available
The rapid advancement of 3D concrete printing (3DCP) and the development of relevant cementitious material compositions can be seen in the last few decades. The commonly used 3DCP method is to build the structure layer by layer after extruding the material through a nozzle. Initially , the pumping and extrusion of the material should be done with considerable fluidity and workability. The extruded layers should retain their shape immediately after extruding and depositing. While constructing the structure in a layerwise manner, the bottom layers should have enough early age strength to support the layers at the top. Therefore, at different processes in 3DCP, the rheological requirement is contradictory. As the rheology of the material is the deterministic factor which decides the fluidity or workability of the mix, proper rheological characterization should be completed accurately. In some instances, due to the higher stiffness, and higher time and rate-dependent material behavior (thixotropic behavior) compared to the conventional concrete, standard rheology measurement techniques have many limitations when used for 3DCP material. Therefore, non-conventional and novel techniques can be implemented with suitable material models to characterize the rheology of 3DCP material. In this study, a comprehensive review was conducted on conventional and non-conventional methods used for characterizing the rheological parameters for 3DCP material. The previously conducted studies were highlighted with the targeted 3DCP processes in the study (if applicable), and rheological parameters achieved from the test (i.e., yield stress, viscosity, and thixotropy). In addition, some experimental studies were conducted to compare several selected testing methods. The rheological parameters achieved from different test methods were compared to identify the similarities, dissimilarities, pros, and cons between the test methods. Furthermore, the extrudability and buildability studies were conducted for the mixes to demonstrate the usage of the mixes in 3DCP applications and to correlate the achieved rheological parameters with these processes.
... Further, the extrudability of the 3DCP depends on the size and composition of mixture ingredients [43,44]. Researchers have used ram extruder [45,46], penetration resistance [47], squeeze test method [48], and desorptivity test [43] to study the extrudability of 3DCP. However, the test method that mimics the exact 3DCP process could help in eliminating the geometry induced artifacts. ...
... Similarly, Zhu et al. [123] assessed the buildability of two similar mixes containing 2% of 12 mm PE fibres doped with and without Nano clay and hydroxy propyl methyl cellulose (HPMC), concluding that the mixture without thixotropic and viscosity-increasing additives has poor buildability. Using a ram extruder and the Benbow-Bridgwater equation, Chaves Figueiredo et al. [45] studied the impact of rheological modifiers, water to solid ratio, and fibre volume (8 mm PVA fibers at 1, 1.5, and 2% by volume) on extrudability of SHCC (Figure 9(a)). They employed two sets of mixes, one containing cement, slag, limestone powder and PVA fibers and other containing cement, FA, sand, limestone and PVA fibers. ...
... (a) Extrusion of SHCC mixes (b) Influence of fibers on bulk and shear stresses[45]. ...
Three-dimensional (3D) concrete printing (3DCP) is one of the digital construction techniques that demands the fulfilment of particular material properties. One of the most important requirements for 3DCP is the material’s rheology. This article provides a comprehensive analysis of the rheology of Portland cement-based materials used in extrusion-based 3DCP. The first sections of the article focused on the influence of mix design on the rheology required for 3DCP in both fibre reinforced and non-fibre reinforced mixtures, followed by the role of various chemical admixtures in tailoring the time dependent rheology. The research points out the lack of rheology benchmarking, implying a strong need for novel or standard printable mix designs that use sustainable materials to improve the structural build-up of mixtures. The review also shows a strong need for active rheology control of cementitious materials for large scale printing application.
... Flowability has mainly been investigated in the literature as it relates to material characterization through the identification of the rheological properties of the material in question [7][8][9][10]. These investigations vary in their approaches, with many of them characterizing the behavior of fresh 3D printable (3DP) concrete with a Bingham model to identify the corresponding rheological properties of the material [7][8][9][10]. ...
... Flowability has mainly been investigated in the literature as it relates to material characterization through the identification of the rheological properties of the material in question [7][8][9][10]. These investigations vary in their approaches, with many of them characterizing the behavior of fresh 3D printable (3DP) concrete with a Bingham model to identify the corresponding rheological properties of the material [7][8][9][10]. However, there have not been any standardized testing methods and/or procedures that were used uniformly throughout these investigations, such that various empirical methods and rheological testing procedures were used. ...
Full-text available
This study proposes test methods for assessing the printability of concrete materials for Additive Manufacturing. The printability of concrete is divided into three main aspects: flowability, setting time, and buildability. These properties are considered to monitor the critical quality of 3DCP and to ensure a successful print. Flowability is evaluated through a rheometer test, where the evolution of shear yield strength is monitored at a constant rate (rpm), similar to the printer setup. Flowability limits were set based on the user-defined maximum thickness of a printed layer and the onset of gaps/cracks during printing. Setting time is evaluated through an ultrasonic wave pulse velocity test (UPV), where the first inflection point of the evolution of the UPV graph corresponds to the setting time of the concrete specimen. The results from this continuous non-destructive test were found to correlate with the results from the discrete destructive ASTM C-191 test for measuring setting time with a maximum difference of 5% between both sets of values. Lastly, buildability was evaluated through the measurement of the early-age compressive strength of concrete, and a correlation with the UPV results obtained a predictive model that can be used in real-time to non-destructively assess the material buildability. This predictive model had a maximum percentage difference of 13% with the measured values. The outcome of this study is a set of tests to evaluate the properties of 3D printable concrete (3DP) material and provide a basis for a framework to benchmark and design materials for additive manufacturing.
... In recent years, some attempts have been made to develop 3D printable ECC reinforced with polyvinyl alcohol (PVA) fibre and polyethylene (PE) fibre [28,[36][37][38][39][40][41][42][43][44]. Regarding PVA fibre reinforced ECC (PVA-ECC) for 3D printing, the printed ECC containing 2 vol% of 12 mm PVA fibres had tensile strength of 2.0-4.0 ...
... [36,39], while the tensile strength and failure strain of the printed ECC reinforced with 2 vol% of 8 mm PVA fibres were found to be 1.0-5.5 MPa and 0.05-3.6% [37,38,40], respectively. Regarding 3D printing PE fibre reinforced ECC hardened properties including mechanical properties, shrinkage, and durability. ...
Full-text available
The tensile behaviour of engineered cementitious composites (ECC) is highly dependent on their microstructure characteristics. To date, the strain-hardening behaviour of printed ECC in relation to its microstructure is not yet fully understood. This study presents a systematic investigation on the macroscopic mechanical properties of normal and printed ECC with various polyethylene (PE) fibre lengths (6 and 12 mm) in relation to their microstructural features in terms of pore structure characteristics, fibre orientation and fibre dispersion through a series of mechanical tests and X-ray computed tomography (CT) and backscattered electron (BSE) image acquisition, processing and analysis. Results indicate that it is desirable to use block specimens for mould-casting fabrication as contrast to printed ECC samples. The printed ECC containing 1.5 vol% 6 mm and 0.5 vol% 12 mm PE fibres by extrusion-based 3D printing exhibits unique tensile ductility of over 5% and average crack width of less than 100 μm. Regarding pore structure, normal ECC has a higher probability of large pores (over 1 mm³) than printed ECC, which would increase the risk of damage localization and lead to a significant variation in tensile properties. Besides, normal ECC with thickness of 30 mm and printed ECC possess a similar fist cracking strength as indicated by similar pore size and fracture toughness. Compared to normal ECC, printed ECC has a more uniform dispersion of PE fibres, the orientation of which is more perpendicular to the loading direction, resulting in a higher average tensile strength and strain capacity than normal ECC.
... There are also some attempts to develop slag-incorporated 3D printing mixtures. Chaves Figueiredo et al. [23] has successfully utilized GGBS, OPC, and limestone to develop 3D printable strain-hardening cementitious composites. Also, Panda et al. [20] researched the fresh and hardened properties of the developed printable mixtures with similar raw materials. ...
3D concrete printing (3DCP) receives worldwide attention, however, incorporating metakaolin (MK) as rheology modifier to develop 3D printed cementitious composites (3DPCC) is limited. In this study, the effect of MK was studied from the perspectives of both fresh and hardened properties. Results showed that compared with control, static yield stress, dynamic yield stress, and viscosity increase by 285.4%, 129.5%, and 49.2% with 10% MK. The increase in the thixotropic area showed that the addition of MK improves the buildability. Meanwhile, the specimens added with MK exhibited increased maximum stress and elastic modulus under unconfined compression, indicating that MK could enhance the early performance of the 3DPCC. Moreover, the stiffness development process of 3DPCC was observed from its failure pattern at fresh state, and MK was found to accelerate the failure pattern change from plastic failure to shear failure. Besides, MK also showed improved 3DPCCs’ mechanical properties and the inhibition of the drying shrinkage because of its pozzolanic activity and filling effect. It is believed that MK positively affects both fresh and hardened properties of the 3DPCC and is therefore recommended to be utilized in 3DCP.
... This software is developed by the team of Blaber who introduced the algorithms in the manuscript published in 2015 (Blaber et al. 2015). The core computation algorithms have been applied and validated by several researchers (Harilal 2014 for epoxy; Figueiredo et al. 2019 for cementitious composites; Kokkinis et al 2018 for 3D materials). ...
Full-text available
Rock salt formation has a worldwide distribution. In China, a typical area for rock salt formation is in Tarim Basin, Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, Northwest of China. Because of the ultra-deep depth and tectonic movement, the rock salt is interbedded with mudstone and other components. As a result, the creep behavior and mechanism remain uncertain, which brings a big challenge for safe drilling and wellbore integrity. In this paper, we compared different types of rock salt, including fine-grain size pure salt outcrop, composite rock salt outcrop with coarse grain size, and ultra-deep halite core with mudstone interlayer from Tarim basin. The result reveals that the halite core is mainly comprised of salt and clay minerals, highly transparent, and the "hardest" among all the samples. It is hard to define the grain size of the core since the salt crystal seems to be in a whole piece. Besides, we notice distinct fluctuations with composite rock salt in creep tests, which is missed in the fine grain pure rock salt. The halite core is less sensitive to temperature compared with the outcrop. In addition, a finer grain size means a faster creep rate. DIC (Digital Image Correlation) analysis shows that a prominent strain area near the composite interface due to the deformability difference. In addition, it validated the creep fluctuation phenomenon since we could observe it intuitively. The substance of creep doesn't attribute to crystal deformation but fine grain dislocation.
... 3D printing of a twisted hollow ECC column up to 1.5 m high has been reported in Ref. [44]. In contrast, ECC elements were reported [45,46] to collapse at less than 17 layers during printing. In addition, 3DP-ECCs with enhanced buildability through optimizing static yield stress [47] and particle size distribution [48] supported the buildup of 120 mm and 210 mm high wall elements, respectively. ...
Failure of the structure due to poor buildability is a major concern in 3D printing of cementitious materials. Evaluation of buildability based on fresh material properties and print parameters is of significance. In this paper, the buildability of printable engineered cementitious composites was investigated and quantified at the material and the structural scale. Fresh ECC material showed excellent load capacity and deformation resistance at the material scale, therefore preventing material failure of the bottom layers, as confirmed by constant shear rate tests and incremental loading tests. To predict vertical deformation of a 3DP structure, a time-dependent strain-stress model of printable ECC was proposed and validated based on the green strength evolution of the material and the buildup rate of the designed structure. At the structural scale, the approach of predicting critical height at self-buckling failure based on stiffness evolution was validated by printing a straight wall and a cylinder structure.
One of the major limitations of the current 3D-concrete-printing technology is the incorporation of reinforcement. Furthermore, there is a need to decrease the ecological footprint of printable concrete. As a possible solution for these challenges, this paper presents a 3D-printable strain-hardening alkali-activated composite (3DP-SHAAC) that shows pseudo-ductile behaviour under direct tension. The developed 3DP-SHAAC is composed of a one-part (just-add-water) alkali-activated binder made of slag (GGBFS), fly ash (FA) and solid activators. The one-part alkali-activated binder eliminates the need for elevated temperature curing and handling of corrosive alkaline liquids. At first, an optimum matrix was identified by studying the effects of FA to GGBFS ratio on the rheological properties and compressive strength. Subsequently, the optimum matrix was reinforced by PVA fibres to make the 3DP-SHAAC, and printing performance and rheological properties were evaluated. In addition, the influences of curing temperature on the compressive, flexural and tensile performances of the printed specimens were also investigated. The results were compared with those obtained for the mould-cast specimens. The 3DP-SHAAC exhibited superior flexural performance, higher tensile strength, and comparable tensile strain capacity to the mould-cast counterpart. Further, the curing temperature had influence on the mechanical properties of both 3D-printed and mould-cast SHAACs. The underlying reasons for the differences are discussed.
Mechanical properties of engineered cementitious composites (ECC) are highly dependent on the pore structural characteristics and fibre-matrix interaction. The relationship between them has not been extensively explored. This paper proposes a practical micromechanical analytical model accounting for pore structure characteristics and crack-bridging properties to predict the strain-hardening and multiple microcracking behaviour of ECC. Using polyethylene fibre reinforced ECC (PE-ECC) as an example, Monte Carlo simulations were undertaken to investigate the tensile behaviour in terms of crack strength, fibre bridging strength and uniaxial tensile properties against heterogeneity of material property, which were validated with experimental data. A parametric study was then conducted to estimate the effects of fibre-matrix bond and fibre properties on stress-strain relationship and microcracking features of PE-ECC. Results indicate that the tensile properties of PE-ECC can be reasonably predicted. Under constant fibre dosages, the tensile ductility of PE-ECC is dominated by interfacial bond, followed by fibre location, orientation and diameter. Such insights are helpful to the design of ECC composites for practical applications.
In this paper, a novel extrusion-based 3D printed material was obtained by preparing 3D printed recycled coarse aggregate concrete (3DPRAC) using recycled coarse aggregate (RCA), and the compressive and flexural properties were investigated at different RCA replacement ratios, ages, and construction forms. The porosity, pore volume distribution, pore geometry characteristics were analyzed by X-CT. MIP and SEM were used to analyze the pore structure of the RCA. The results showed that the compressive and flexural strengths have obvious anisotropic characteristics. With increasing replacement ratio, the compressive and flexural strengths generally decreased. Internal pores of 3DPRAC were found to exhibit the geometric characteristics of flat ellipsoidal and uniaxially oriented arrangements along the printing direction. A multiple partition-interface model was proposed to establish the connection between pore structure characteristics and force cracking, and the anisotropic mechanical property mechanism of 3DPRAC was revealed.
Full-text available
With the number of 3D printed concrete structures rapidly increasing, the demand for concepts that allow for robust and ductile printed objects becomes increasingly pressing. An obvious solution strategy is the inclusion of fibers in the printed material. In this study, the effect of adding short straight steel fibers on the failure behaviour of Weber 3D 115-1 print mortar has been studied through several CMOD tests on cast and printed concrete, on different scales. The experiments have also been simulated numerically. The research has shown that the fibers cause an important increase in flexural strength, and eliminate the strength difference between cast and printed concrete that exists without fibers. The post-peak behaviour, nevertheless, has to be characterised as strongly strain-softening. In the printed specimens, a strong fiber orientation in the direction of the filament occurs. However, this has no notable effect on the performance in the tested direction: cast and printed concrete with fibers behave similarly in the CMOD test. For the key parameters, no scale effect was found for the specimens with fibers, contrary to the ones without. Numerical modelling of the test by using the Concrete Damage Plasticity material model of Abaqus, with a Thorenfeldt-based constitutive law in compression and a customised constitutive law in tension, results in a reasonable fit with the experimental results.
Full-text available
This work presents a generalized method for robotic mortar extrusion, allowing the fabrication of structural-insulating walls of novel performances. It involves two distinct steps that are to be simultaneously automated: extrusion of a specifically formulated mortar, and assembly of adequately shaped insulating blocks. Here, the layer by layer approach of concrete printing is renewed by using insulating blocks as support for the extrusion. The volumetric space of the wall is divided by an adequate space tessellation, dividing it in polyhedra. They become insulating blocks, on the edges of which mortar is extruded. The set of edges then forms a space truss, of great mechanical efficiency. “Printable” mortar is crucial to the system for the blocks could not withstand the hydrostatic pressure of fresh mortar without additional form-work features, once a few meters height has been reached. This approach renews traditional confined masonry, allowing for geometric complexity and automation.
Conference Paper
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Digital construction (DC) or 3d-concrete-printing is causing a paradigm shift in construction processes towards complete automation, enabling faster, productive and cost-efficient construction of complex structures. DC is also facilitating and inspiring creativity in structural design. However, the stumbling block on the way to widespread application of DC is the implementation of reinforcement, for which no complete solutions are available yet. This article gives a brief overview of various approaches for integrating reinforcement in digitally produced concrete structures. In addition, experimental investigations, following two approaches viz. a) use of short fibers pre-mixed in printable concrete and b) 3d-printing of steel reinforcement will be delineated. Experimental investigations on 3d-printed (gas-metal arc welding based) steel reinforcement showed that its tensile strength, strain capacity as well as bond to concrete are comparable to those of conventional steel rebar. The 3d-printed strain-hardening cement-based composite (PSHCC-printable SHCC) exhibited remarkable performance in terms of tensile strength and strain capacity too, thanks to addition of high-strength polyethylene (PE) fibers. The mechanical properties of PSHCC were found to be comparable to those of casted SHCC.
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Large-scale additive manufacturing processes for construction utilise computer-controlled placement of extruded cement-based mortar to create physical objects layer-by-layer. Demonstrated applications include component manufacture and placement of in-situ walls for buildings. These applications vary the constraints on design parameters and present different technical issues for the production process. In this paper, published and new work are utilised to explore the relationship between fresh and hardened paste, mortar, and concrete material properties and how they influence the geometry of the created object. Findings are classified by construction application to create a matrix of issues that identifies the spectrum of future research exploration in this emerging field.
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Additive manufacturing (AM) of construction materials has been one of the emerging advanced technologies that aim to minimise the supply chain in the construction industry through autonomous production of building components directly from digital models without human intervention and complicated formworks. However, technical challenges needs to be addressed for the industrial implementation of AM, e.g. materials formulation standardization, and interfacial bonding quality between the deposited layers amongst others. AM as one of the most highlighted key enabling technologies has the potential to create disruptive solutions, the key for its successful implementation is multidisciplinary effort in synergy involving materials science, architecture/design, computation, and robotics. There are crucial links between the material design formulations and the printing system for the manufacturing of the complex 3D geometries. Understanding and optimising the mix design for fresh rheology of materials and sufficient adhesion/cohesion of interface can allow the incorporation of complexity in the geometry.
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We study in this paper the rheological requirements for printable concrete in terms of yield stress, viscosity, elastic modulus, critical strain, and structuration rate. We first discuss the extrusion/deposition process at the level of the nozzle from a material perspective. We then focus on the rheological requirements needed to prevent the flow of one layer or the strength-based failure of the rising printed element. We moreover discuss the rheological requirements needed to control the final geometrical dimensions of one layer and of the entire object, including buckling stability and surface cracking. We finally describe the requirement for a proper intermixing of the layers interface and also note that drying of the upper surface of the layer at rest could also play a major role on the interlayer bond. Finally, we evaluate the effect of the use of printing supports (i.e. non-direct printing) on the above rheological requirements.
To demonstrate printability and fire performance of 3D printable fiber reinforced cementitious materials at elevated temperatures, large-scaling printing and fire performance testing are required for engineering applications. In this work, a mixture design of 3D printable fiber reinforced cementitious composite (3DPFRCC) for large-scale printing was developed. A structure with dimensions of 78 × 60 × 90 cm (L × W × H) was printed by a gantry printer in 150 minutes, which demonstrates that the developed 3DPFRCC mixture possesses good buildability. The rheological property, setting-time, and mechanical properties under normal and elevated temperatures of the developed 3DPFRCC were then characterized. Final results indicate that the developed 3DPFRCC is suitable for engineering applications due to its good printability and mechanical properties under normal and elevated temperatures.
Currently, building construction is beginning to consider the use of 3D printing which can be considered as an evolution or modernization of its proven traditional techniques. A new process based on FAM approach (Foam Additive Manufacturing) has been patented by Nantes University. The wall manufacturing is based on the laying of two polyurethane foam beads which plays the role of framework for the concrete and inside and outside thermal insulation. To perform the laying, the development of a robotic architecture integrates an automated guided vehicle and an industrial robot located on it. The printing environment is complex: printed walls, pipes inside the concrete slab, robot hoses, house form complexity, vertical steel reinforcement. Also, the concrete slab inspection shows a flatness defect close to 25mm (regular defect) which impacts the robot accuracy. The objective is then to find the best location for an AGV (Automated Guided Vehicle) in order to perform the printing in the best conditions. After a comparison on current mobile robot architecture for house manufacturing, we present the location of the mobile robot in its environment where, during the first day, the navigation is analysed and then improved to perform the house printing. Via the homogeneous transformation, we outline the Direct Geometrical Model and our implementation to improve the accuracy of the robotic system. Finally, we present the manufacturing principle and the final result: a habitable house by 3D printing.
A vision is presented on 3D printing with concrete, considering technical, economic and environmental aspects. Although several showcases of 3D printed concrete structures are available worldwide, many challenges remain at the technical and processing level. Currently available high-performance cement-based materials cannot be directly 3D printed, because of inadequate rheological and stiffening properties. Active rheology control (ARC) and active stiffening control (ASC) will provide new ways of extending the material palette for 3D printing applications. From an economic point of view, digitally manufactured concrete (DFC) will induce changes in the stakeholders as well as in the cost structure. Although it is currently too ambitious to quantitatively present the cost structure, DFC presents many potential opportunities to increase cost-effectiveness of construction processes. The environmental impact of 3D printing with concrete has to be seen in relation to the shape complexity of the structure. Implementing structural optimization as well as functional hybridization as design strategies allows the use of material only where is structurally or functionally needed. This design optimization increases shape complexity, but also reduces material use in DFC. As a result, it is expected that for structures with the same functionality, DFC will environmentally perform better over the entire service life in comparison with conventionally produced concrete structures.