Quantitative microstructural investigation of 3D-printed and cast cement pastes using micro-computed tomography and image analysis

September 14, 2021

Reza Moini (1), Ahmadreza Baghaie (2), Fabian B. Rodriguez (1), Pablo D. Zavattieri (1), Jeffrey P. Youngblood (3), Jan Olek (1)
Cement and Concrete Research, 147, September 2021. DOI: 10.1016/j.cemconres.2021.1064933


Image analysis; Micro-CT; Interfaces; Macro-pores; Micro-channels; Interfacial micro-pores; 3D-printing; Hardened cement paste (hcp)


Microstructural phases and mechanical properties of lamellar 3D-printed and cast hardened cement paste (hcp) elements were investigated using a lab-based X-ray microscope at two levels of magnification (0.4× and 4×). K-means clustering was used for quantitative image analysis. The entire volume of intact 3-days-old 3D-printed and cast hcp elements was characterized at 0.4× magnification. Three microstructural features (macro-pores, micro-channels, and interfacial micro-pores) were found to reside in three distinct pore size domains. The largest pores of the 3D-printed element were larger than the largest pores of the reference cast hcp element. Moreover, the smallest pore sizes of the 3D-printed element were found to be smaller than those present in the cast counterparts. Micro-channels were found to be connected to one another through the micro-pores present at interfacial regions, indicating the presence of a uniquely patterned and interconnected pore network. The role of locally weak and porous interfaces on mechanical response and fracture properties is discussed.

How Our Software Was Used

Dragonfly was used for post-processing and visualization of the 2D and 3D images as well as for extraction of 2D images for image analysis.

Author Affiliation

(1) Lyles School of Civil Engineering, Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN, USA.
(2) Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, New York Institute of Technology, Long Island, New York, USA.
(3) School of Materials Engineering, Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN, USA.

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