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…breeding projects out of the dead rock, mixing
Portland cement and aggregate, stirring
Dry gravel with spring rain.

Or something like that. Anyway, I promise that our materials Skill Builder unit for this month will be much more fun than The Waste Land. As hard as it may be to even imagine that much fun in one place.

During April, we are spotlighting one of humanity’s oldest, cheapest, and most commonly-used building materials—also, surprisingly, one of its most poorly understood. Speaking generally, concrete is a mixture of three components: aggregate, cement, and water. The aggregate can be gravel, sand, glass, plastic, chunks of old concrete, or pretty much any other solid filler. Concrete’s characteristic transformation—from wet slurry or paste to hard, rock-like solid—depends on the reaction between cement and water, a chemical process known as hydration.

But the number of variables involved in the process of mixing and forming a particular batch of concrete is surprisingly large, and the structure of bulk concrete, at the atomic and molecular level, is wonderfully complex. Scientists are just now beginning to understand it. And while we can’t hope to even touch on every aspect of the subject in a single month, we can, hopefully, show you something you haven’t seen before, and maybe even inspire you to make something concrete, yourself. Stay tuned!

P.S. As always, if you’ve seen a project or a maker doing something inspiring with our featured material, please do let us know, below. Thanks!

Sean Michael Ragan

I am descended from 5,000 generations of tool-using primates. Also, I went to college and stuff. I write for MAKE, serve as Technical Editor for MAKE magazine, and develop original DIY content for Make: Projects.


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