The University of Michigan researchers have developed a method for creating ultra-lightweight, waste-free concrete using 3D printing technology called the "Shell Wall."

Architect Mania Aghaei Meibodi and researchers Alireza Bayramvand and Yuxin Lin of the DART lab at U-M's Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning combined topology optimization with 3D concrete printing to develop a computational model that synergizes nonplanar and variable material deposition based on the shape and geometric features of the topology-optimized parts. 

This reduces weight by 72% compared to conventional, solid concrete of the same size and eliminates unnecessary overbuilding with excessive materials.

"This leads to high concrete consumption and limits its application for lightweight forms that entail intricate shapes like branching and angular tubular forms, overhangs, layer cantilevers, and filament section or angle variations," Aghaei Meibodi, assistant professor of architecture at Taubman College, said in a press release statement.

The researchers' approach shows promise for the construction industry, which is beginning to embrace 3D printing as a promising tool for innovation and sustainability.

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