3D printing on HS2 will reduce disruption to commuters

Image: HS2

HS2 Ltd London tunnels contractor SCS JV (Skanska Costain Strabag joint venture) says 3D printing technology will reduce disruption to commuters during building works as well as mitigating environmental impact. 

SCS JV (Skanska Costain Strabag joint venture) is using 3D printing ‘Printfrastructure’ to build concrete structures onsite in physically-restricted areas to cut out the need for complicated logistics plans and reduces disruption to the travelling public.

Working with its Worcester-based partner ChangeMaker 3D, the JV will be able to create concrete structures with strands of graphene – “the strongest material ever tested” – several atoms thick running through it, replacing the steel.

The printing process is controlled by robots, which allows the concrete structures to be printed with the strengthening internal lattice. SCS JV has described the move as a “UK-first” adding that the “breakthrough” is the technology allowing the addition of graphene to the 3D printing process. 

Printing using graphene will also simplify and shorten the construction process, and improve site safety as it eliminates the need for cranes, and reduces the number of trucks used.

By using graphene less concrete is used, which will halve the project’s carbon usage, and with less machinery onsite this will also reduce carbon output. 

HS2 innovation manager Rob Cairns said: “The project SCS JV and ChangeMaker 3D are collaborating on is a fantastic demonstration of the kind of far-reaching innovations HS2 enables. 

“With a build programme spanning the decade and across the country, the project [HS2] is creating an ideal environment to develop technologies with the potential to transform how major infrastructure is built.”

SCS JV temporary works manager Andrew Duck added: “Automation enabled by Printfrastructure’s 3D reinforced concrete printing creates a factory-like environmental that delivers a high-quality product that both increases efficient use of materials, and reduces our carbon footprint.

“It is important that we give technologies such as Printfrastructure the opportunity to flourish because of the possibilities it offers the industry to make a step change in how projects are delivered.”  

The tech allowing graphene to be incorporated into the printing process was developed by ChangeMaker 3D, working with materials specialist SME, Versarien.

ChangeMaker 3D director Natalie Wadley said: "ChangeMaker 3D stands for sustainability in the built environment. Through our Printfrastructure innovation project with SCS JV – a UK first for this technology – and together with brilliant project partners, we are proud to support the rail sector to unlock lower carbon construction."

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