School of Civil & Environmental Engineering academic Dr Ali Kashani and his research team at the Centre for Infrastructure, Engineering & Safety (CIES),  in collaboration with industry partner Contour 3D, have developed a 3D printing mortar that was utilised for onsite printing of the first house in the southern hemisphere.

The 60 sqm, 3 m high structure, which was built as a poolside cabana, featuring a living area, dining area, bathroom and bar, was part of The Block Show of Channel 9 on Tuesday 13 Sept and featured in the  Sydney Morning Herald and The Age.

Interior of the 3D printer-built poolside cabana

The concrete mix used in the printing process was designed with the help of Dr Kashani, using recycled materials.  Kashani who is a Churchill Fellow in Construction 3D Printing has extensive experience in research, development, and commercialisation of advanced and sustainable construction materials.

Kashani and PhD student Hamid Bayat worked closely with Contour 3D for more than twelve months to develop the special concrete with appealing finish that could stand in place while drying as well as meeting strength and durability requirements.

‘We’re still working on the mix, optimising the material and looking at the sustainability of it,’ Kashani told the SMH.

Shower facility in the cabana - Pic Contour 3D

The team hopes eventually to develop a concrete mix that will use more recycled materials and will be self-insulating, so additional insulation will not be needed. They also hope to introduce artificial intelligence to the printer, which could change the concrete mix used depending on the weather, or for day and night printing when temperatures change.

Kashani notes that while 3D printing is used in the building industry for some prefabricated elements which are assembled on site, its use is not mainstream.  He intends to change that.

So too does Contour3D founder Nick Holden, who says that Australia can become a leader in advanced manufacturing technology. ‘By constantly pioneering the disciplines of material sciences, advanced robotics, software development and precision engineering we will revolutionise the way we build.’

For more information contact Dr Ali Kashani

See Channel 9’s  video on construction here

Hamid Bayat and Ali Kashani in CIES construction labs