Alexander LaRoux wants to introduce adept printing to concrete construction. For the past two years, as he worked toward his degree in Mechanical Engineering from Baylor University, LaRoux fabricated his own 3D concrete printer. This young engineer is actually on version two of his 3D concrete printer.
His Concrete Printer 2 is set up on a 10- x 10-foot platform in his yard. The new unit has enough flexibility to create concrete elements that are about 5 cubic yards in volume. Using his coding system, LaRoux created several concrete elements in his backyard workshop.
LaRoux is focused on using his adept process on concrete projects that require a great degree of variance. The engineer believes that creating the proper code processing that controls the dispensing nozzle is very doable.
LaRoux’s greatest challenge has been creating the best mix design. The inventor had to hand-mix each batch. LaRoux purchased pre-mixed bags of a pea-gravel mix that was rated at 4,000 psi from a local building supply store. He refers to the workability of the mix in terms of viscosity. “I wasn’t aware of the term slump until I spoke with a local producer asking for help,” he says.
Now with some time on his hands, LaRoux has turned his focus to large-scale projects. He recognizes that it’s best to start small and on objects that can be sold. He is investigating opportunities to create precast elements such as inlets, manholes, and vaults. He even thinks there could be an opportunity using his technology in tilt-up construction.
LaRoux doesn’t have any plans set in concrete following his December 2015 graduation. He has been approached by an East Coast technology firm that gathers start-up processing technologies to develop them into commercial enterprises. But LaRoux wants to bide his time, hopefully becoming a part of an organization focused on concrete production/construction.
LaRoux has posted videos and pictures at www.concreteprinter.tumblr.com. Check them out.