3D printed temperature-sensing repairs for concrete structures

Vlachakis, Christos and Perry, Marcus and Biondi, Lorena and McAlorum, Jack (2020) 3D printed temperature-sensing repairs for concrete structures. Additive Manufacturing, 34. 101238. ISSN 2214-8604

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    Abstract

    Multifunctional coating materials have enjoyed extensive development within civil engineering in the last few decades, with numerous proposals for self-sensing and self-healing repairs. Less thought has been afforded to coating material deployment, but a reliance on conventional manual methods is leading to high costs and variabilities in performance. This is prohibiting the application of new materials in the field. This paper addresses this issue by outlining, for the first time a 3D printable temperature sensing repair for concrete. The multifunctional material used in this study is a geopolymer: a durable alternative to ordinary Portland cement repairs, which can be electrically interrogated to act as a sensor. In this paper, we outline the material and 3D printing process development, and demonstrate 3D printed repair patches with a temperature sensing precision of 0.1 °C, a long-term sensing repeatability of 0.3 °C, a compressive strength of 24 MPa, and an adhesion strength to concrete of 0.6 MPa. The work demonstrates the feasibility of using additive manufacturing as a new means of applying repairs to concrete substrates, and provides one clear pathway to removing some of the barriers to the field deployment of multifunctional materials in a civil engineering context. The process shown here could enhance the design versatility of self-sensing repairs, unlock remote deployment, and de-cost and de-risk actions that prolong the lifespan and performance of existing concrete structures.