If you’re keen for your next building project to be big, bold and beautiful, even if your primary construction material is concrete, then you’re in luck… a team of scientists from the University of Dundee have succeeded in using toner powder from old printer cartridges to replicate colours within cement pastes and concrete, which could really transform the aesthetics of our future urban environments.
By mixing yellow, cyan, magenta and black toner powder, it was found to be possible to produce numerous colors within both concrete and cement without having an impact on the integrity of the finished substance. The products were also found to be resilient in both dry and wet environments, as well as UV light – which means they will retain their brightness over time.
Dr Moray Newlands, lead author of the project, had this to say about the results: “We’ve got a project under way to look into the feasibility of using this in precast concrete blocks. One manufacturer that we’re working with is producing samples which we will test further to see how they resist water and how strong they are.
“As engineers, the main thing we’re concerned with is ensuring that the properties of the concrete remain similar or are improved by adding colour to it. If that is the case, then architects will be able to use it as they wish.”
He went on to say that toner powder can’t be recycled into new cartridges because it becomes contaminated and changes size once having been through the printing process. Approximately ten per cent of toner stays in the printer cartridge at the end of its life, so the idea is to try and find ways this can be used and stop it from going to landfill.
Coloured concrete is already in existence but made in a different manner. Typically, pigments are used – either manufactured in a chemical plant or mined from the ground – and are available in granular, liquid or powder form.
It’s essential that proper curing of coloured concrete takes place because an inconsistent shade will arise otherwise. Slight colour differences are very rarely noticed in grey concrete, however, but if they do appear in coloured concrete it may well be that you need to undo the work already done and repour.
Don’t forget to prepare your sub base properly and you also need to think about how you’re going to place large areas of coloured concrete over the course of the job in hand, since you’ll need to prioritise consistency of colour.
Maintenance is also a factor to consider when working with coloured concrete since, unlike grey, the colours will change unless cleaned and resealed periodically. If you’d like to find out more about concrete and how we can help you with your structural strengthening, get in touch with us at Freyssinet today.