Problem Addressed

The built environment is directly responsible for 25% of UK emissions, lifting to 42% if you include surface transport. In order to reach Net Zero by 2050, the roadmap for the construction industry, from the Global Cement and Concrete Association (GCCA), requires a 25% reduction in emissions by 2030, compared to 2020. Sustainable development in 21st century must include concrete solutions but there is no need to wait until 2030 for meaningful reductions in embodied carbon.

Solution Overview

Minimass beams are a new type of 3D printed concrete beam, to be used as a prefabricated structural element in new-build construction, lowering embodied carbon.

They are designed to use less material – concrete and steel – to achieve the same performance requirements as typical concrete beams. By reducing the quantity of concrete by up to 60% and the quantity of steel by up to 50%, the embodied carbon of these structural elements can be reduced by up to 70%. Reducing material quantities also significantly reduces costs, with predictions of up to 50% reduced material costs.

The beams are designed to Eurocodes and can be a like-for-like replacement to traditional concrete, steel or glulam beams, with minimal change to the design of the rest of the structure. The beams use a geometry which responds to the applied loads and they have large web openings which allow services to pass through them.

This is a good solution for beams longer than 6m and an excellent solution for beams longer than 12m. For short beams, e.g. in residential construction, it is likely that steel or shallow concrete beams are more appropriate.

The beams can be used with precast concrete floors, composite metal deck and CLT.

The cost of the solution is split between material costs and manufacturing costs. The material costs are significantly reduced – by up to 50%. The manufacturing cost is driven by the 3D printing process and the location of the project. Crucially, the labour costs associated with 3D printing are low, therefore the overall cost for the beam is of the order of 25% less than a traditional concrete beam.

Case Study

There is no built case study available but the product has passed a range of laboratory tests and is now being marketed to projects in UK, Europe and Australia. Furthermore, a series of 6m long physical prototypes have been printed and assembled for destructive load testing. Working with a range of industry leaders, this testing process has been essential to validate minimass for the construction industry.

Facts and Figures

~25 %
<70 %
<60 %
<50 %

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