Concrete is a material favoured by architects, engineers, and builders due to its high structural strength and its ability to take almost any form.
However, in order to shape concrete structures, heavy-duty, standardized formwork is usually employed to support the fresh concrete while curing. To expand geometrical freedom, 3D printed concrete formwork has emerged as a field of research.
This research presents a novel fabrication process which combines large-scale robotic fused deposition modelling (FDM) 3D printing with the casting of a fast-hardening, set-on-demand concrete.
This fabrication process, known as ‘Eggshell’, enables the production of non-standard concrete structures in a material-efficient process. By casting fast-hardening concrete in a continuous process, lateral pressure exerted by the fresh concrete is kept to a minimum.
In this way, a 1.5 mm thin thermoplastic shell can be used as formwork without any additional support. This fabrication method has been used to produce a full-scale, structural concrete column as part of the Future Tree pavilion in Esslingen, Switzerland in 2019.
More recently, the “Eggshell Pavilion”, a full-scale concrete structure consisting of multiple elements fabricated using 3D printed formwork, was completed at the Vitra Design Museum. The pavilion showcases the potential of 3D printed formwork for architecture and construction, paving the way toward mass customization and structural optimization within concrete architecture.
Joris Burger has studied Architecture in the Netherlands, Sweden and Japan after which he completed his Master of Science in Building Technology (with distinction) at the Delft University of Technology. He has gained professional experience working for the design, engineering and manufacturing company Octatube in Delft, the Netherlands.
Currently, he is a PhD researcher at the chair of Architecture and Digital Fabrication at ETH Zurich, Switzerland, where he investigates the design and fabrication of concrete structures produced using robotically 3D printed formwork. The research has been exhibited at the Vitra Design Museum and Zürich Design Museum and has received the Award for Structural Artistry from the Institution of Structural Engineers in 2021.
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