Currently, the UIR project is in the last phase of implementation. The consortium has received all the necessary formal documents for the planned prototype realisation – the noise wall, and the process of scaling-up has started. Despite the ongoing pandemic, the construction work is being continued. Consecutive milestones have been achieved, and the progress is noticeable.
The main role in the last period was played by the Fimatec company. It has built a full-scale 3D printer in the warehouse, where the first industrial trials were conducted. The main concept of the 3D printer is based on devices dedicated for concrete materials. The first test showed that many changes are needed, including a pumping system. The new material prepared in the project requires significantly different solutions comparison with a traditional concrete. The innovative solutions were implemented into the manufacturing system and the production of ready-made components for the noise wall started. Presently, these components are being installed on the place where ground works were carried out, i.e. behind the kinder garden and the school, where it will block the noise from railway trains.
At the same time, other works in the project are being continued. The issues related to circular economy, sustainability, and life cycle assessment in the development of products based on secondary raw materials are widely discussed according to the Lappeenranta University. The theoretical background for the business models and ecosystems of products based on secondary raw materials has been created, and the first steps for its implementation in South Karelia have been undertaken. The important element of the project are the plans connected with product certification and normalisation that allows for using the project effect after the project duration. The certification procedures will required advanced research on the products, especially confirmation the safety the using secondary raw materials for the manufacturing the construction elements.
The progress of the project was presented in the online conference “Construction revolution begins in South Karelia - Urban Infra Revolution” on 27 October 2020. The conference stressed the possibility of using products from the local circular economy to replace binders (i.e. concrete) and support structures (i.e. concrete reinforcement) with prefabricated building elements. The raw materials for the building elements were separated from the side streams and construction waste of the local industry. Next, they were used to make a binder for the manufacturing of geopolymers (concrete-like materials). These materials find application in 3D printing technology. The main results of the developed technology are sustainable (low-carbon) and cost-efficient materials that provide new aesthetic possibilities and a manufacturing process that enables innovative construction.