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Innovating with concrete

Published 9.11.2021

Hyperion copyright · Image and video

We are currently testing reinforced concrete 3D printing to validate this innovative technology prior to offering it to our customers.

Innovation is a pillar of Techint Engineering & Construction’s approach to continuous improvement, and the reason why we are currently testing reinforced concrete 3D printing using robotic arms. The idea is to evaluate the possibilities presented by this technology so we can start to offer it to our customers.

Reinforced concrete 3D printing is a key part of our drive towards sustainable construction, as it will allow items to be printed on-site at the projects as well as in supplier workshops. "We’re convinced that this technology will bring us many benefits in terms of safety, productivity and sustainability," explained Alejandro Aguirre, Head of Innovation and Knowledge Management.

“It’s undoubtedly going to be a major change in the way that civil works tasks are carried out in projects, and an improvement on traditional procedures. The new technology will enable us to dispense with conventional formwork and reinforcements for certain pieces that have a low structural commitment. Additionally, we are using recycled materials in the printing mortar mix,” detailed Gastón Schroh, Senior PyCP Analyst, who is coordinating the initiative. Gastón also remarked that he has a Cartesian-type 3D printer at home: "Now I can put into practice at a professional level what I enjoy doing as a hobby."

Techint E&C is working within the alliance with Finnish startup Hyperion Robotics to conduct the tests and produce 3D printed concrete prototypes, using as a model the trench-like components from the amine drainage system at a refining unit in Mexico. “This is a mutually beneficial relationship as they are contributing their extensive knowledge of 3D printing technology, and we are bringing our engineering and construction expertise to the table. All of which leads to a highly enriching synergy" commented Walter Vergez, who is responsible at the corporate level for the Design of Concrete Structures.

He went on to add that, “The choice of components is made on the basis of the high amount of labor-hours spent in the field on formwork, assembly, casting and subsequent stripping tasks which take place on the concrete after it’s finally cast. And this is just the beginning: the idea is to expand the use of this technology in areas such as underground electrical chambers, or channels, and later extend its application to other structural typologies."

The Finnish company Hyperion Robotics is setting a trend worldwide thanks to the impact it is having on sustainability in the industry, using concrete made from recycled materials such as wood and steel. “This innovative 3D printing system is mounted on industrial robotic arms, similar to the automotive industry, rather than fixed supports as is the case with conventional 3D printers. This also means that they can send their printing robots to the project itself and build pre-manufacturing workshops onsite using 3D printing, which is fairly unusual in the market,” explained Gastón Schroh.

Vilson Rigon, who is driving the initiative, added that “when I was presented with this technology, I realized that we had to try it out immediately, in order to validate it. So we agreed that the Dos Bocas Refinery Project (R2B) would finance the testing stage, with the idea of applying the technology there right after completing the testing. I believe this tool holds immense potential for development in the near future: we’d be the first to use it for industrial applications in Mexico and in Latin America. There’s no doubt that this will represent a differentiating factor in the market thanks to the technology itself, and will also boost our commitment to sustainability.”

This new methodology will clearly be a transformative and disruptive experience not only for Techint E&C’s projects but also for the industry as a whole, serving to position the company at the forefront of the use of this kind of technology.

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