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Environmental performance in Construction : A case-study of 3D Concrete Printing Technology

Abstract : The ongoing development of 3D Concrete Printing technology is broadly associated with the boons of mass-customization industry, with the potential of productivity, time and cost optimization, as well as with the sustainable potential of the practice, leaning on a largely discussed capacity of the smart and rational material deposition offered by additive manufacturing. This latter is investigated in the present work by the means of the Life-Cycle Assessment (LCA) method applied to an extrusion-based printing technology built upon the 6-axis robotic arm.The manuscript begins with a critical review of environmental performance in construction, putting it into life-cycle perspective and introducing the theoretical framework of the LCA discipline. Then, the environmental analysis of 3D Concrete Printing technology is accomplished with a particular focus on its process-related impact. Finally, a series of case-studies is evaluated on different constructive scales: from the elementary brick of a construction procedure to the full-bodied architectural system. In closing, some aspects of the industry-wide deployment of the practice are outlooked in light of the rebound effect phenomenon. A general discussion on the sustainable development of the practice concludes this work.Mainly, the study puts forward the environmental characterization of material and process-related impacts allowing to calculate the environmental impact of any printed object. Furtherly, those environmental data can be integrated into the design and optimization studies of building elements. The outcomes of the case studies point out a fair significance of the process-related impact, that despite the material savings, prompts some important impact transfers and pollution shifts into the life-cycle balance of a concrete element.Precisely, on the basic scale of the construction procedure, the impact of the 1m3 of printed concrete is almost twice bigger than the impact of 1m3 of casted concrete. The process-related impact represents around 13% in Climate Change category and can vary significantly in function of the process and material settings.The environmental gains on the scale of a structure were shown to be insignificant in the masonry framework but go up to 50% in the reinforced concrete perspective. The process-related impact remains significant but can be compensated by the material savings if properly taken into account during the design phase. Worth noting, the material quantity was shown to be an inappropriate metrics for environmental question in structural design.The integration of the optimized 3D Concrete Printed structure into the full-bodied architectural system of building envelope has demonstrated the impact reduction potential of around 20% in Climate Change category. Finally, regarding the global deployment of the practice, the further studies quantifying the magnitude of the rebound effect are necessary in order to understand the industry-wide environmental profile of 3D Concrete Printing technology.In larger outline, the 3D Concrete Printing technology in particular and the construction automation in general has shown a real capacity for the overall environmental improvement of structural and architectural systems.
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Submitted on : Monday, July 11, 2022 - 4:15:14 PM
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Kateryna Kuzmenko. Environmental performance in Construction : A case-study of 3D Concrete Printing Technology. Civil Engineering. École des Ponts ParisTech, 2021. English. ⟨NNT : 2021ENPC0009⟩. ⟨tel-03720006⟩

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