A self-healing system for concrete developed in Europe was inspired by a Dutch researcher’s trip to Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming. As concrete ages, water seeps into cracks, which widen as the water freezes and thaws. In the new approach, specific organic mineral precursor compounds plus spore-forming alkaliphilic bacteria are incorporated into concrete during the manufacturing process. They produce calcite particles up to 100-μm in size that are shown to seal micro- to even larger-sized cracks. Erik Schlangen, a professor at Delft Technical University in The Netherlands said he got the idea after seeing deposits of calcite near geysers at Yellowstone. The improvement in crack resistance is said to more than compensate for a 10 percent loss in compressive strength due to incorporation of the bacteria, says Schlangen. The approach will also reduce the amount of raw materials used in concrete.
These new 3D-printing technologies and printers include some that are truly boundary-breaking: a sophisticated new sub-$10,000, 10-plus materials bioprinter, the first industrial-strength silicone 3D-printing service, and a clever twist on 3D printing and thermoforming for making high-quality realistic models.
Using simulation to guide the drafting process can speed up the design and production of 3D-printed nanostructures, reduce errors, and even make it possible to scale up the structures. Oak Ridge National Laboratory has developed a model that does this.
Engineers need workhorse materials with beefy mechanical properties for industrial designs made with 3D printing. Very few have been designed from the ground up for additive manufacturing, but that picture is beginning to change.
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