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Grace Di Benedetto

Grace Di Benedetto

Highly Commended Winner 2016
An Exploratory Investigation of Earth Printing

Research Abstract

Earth construction and 3D printing appear to lie at opposite ends of the spectrum of human advancement, yet a union of these methods has the potential to respond to housing demands of the modern age. While there is a growing recognition of the durability, strength and sustainability of stabilised rammed earth construction, the use of the technique in the mainstream industry is inhibited by the time and labour intensity of the process. 

 

To address this issue and to revitalise the world of earth construction for more widespread interest, the emerging methods of rapid manufacturing and 3D printing have been applied to earth building to develop the ‘earth printer’. The earth printer concept uses roller compaction to systematically bind layers of earthen material, in a pattern automated by a computer-aided design. To explore this novel idea, a small scale, non-automated experimental device capable of simulating the central mechanisms was developed. The current project has utilised the simulator to investigate this process, assessing its capability to form load-bearing walls within the confines of using inexpensive equipment and common materials. The result has been a characterisation of the fundamental material properties and an understanding of the factors critical for success, setting the foundation for further research and advancement.

Winner's Bios

Grace Di Benedetto

University of Western Australia

Grace graduated from the University of Western Australia in 2016, with a Bachelor of Engineering (Civil)(Hons1) and a Bachelor of Commerce (Management). During her degree she had the opportunity to study abroad at University College London and the University of Bologna. 

 

Grace is currently working in London as a graduate structural engineer for consulting firm, Arup. In this role she is involved in interesting projects in the rail and air sector and participates in a number of community engagement programs. In the future, she would like to champion the use of natural and sustainable materials in mainstream construction.