Researchers from the University of Messina have formulated a lightweight foamed concrete to more effectively 3D print building structures without the need for any formwork.

Unlike traditional lightweight foamed concrete, the novel material (3DPC) is able to retain its shape in its ‘molten’ or ‘fresh’ state due to a very high viscosity.Upon extensive testing, the team also found the specially formulated concrete to have a compressive strength higher than that of conventional concrete (CC), making it potentially viable for industrial use.

Foamed concrete is the term given to low density cementitious materials that have been infused with a foaming agent to add air. The presence of air bubbles in the mix tends to give the concrete some peculiar (but surprisingly useful) properties such as low weight, thermal insulation, acoustic absorption, and fire resistance – all extremely desirable in the construction industry.However, the lightweight nature of foamed concrete does have its downsides. Conventional foamed concretes often exhibit low mechanical strengths and instability, making them unsuitable for any practical building.