3D Printing for Complex Architectural Components

The main objective for our research is to develop automated fabrication methods for complex, non-standard load-bearing components. The principal approach is to use 3D printing in hybrid combination with other fabrication processes and materials.

3D-printing technologies are developing rapidly; however, the structural properties of 3D-printed materials are usually not adequate for direct use in construction.

On the other hand, concrete has excellent structural properties and can be cast into any conceivable shape. Yet the excellent geometric potential of concrete is limited by one’s ability to produce the necessary formwork. Especially for free-form, non-standard parts, formwork resources can represent more than 60% of the entire construction costs.

To tackle this dilemma, we have to focus on a hybrid strategy. We are exploiting the unique capabilities of 3D printing to fabricate complex, mass-customised disposable or stay-in-place formwork and combine this with casting concrete. Thus, the components inherit the excellent fabrication freedom from the 3D-printing process, while the structural strength is provided by the concrete.

The nature of our field of research demands an active interdisciplinary collaboration with materials scientists, roboticists and mechanical, structural and civil engineers. In collaboration with the group of Prof. Dr. Robert J. Flatt, we are investigating ways of developing a new geometric vocabulary in concrete, without compromising structural performance. Also, in collaboration with the group of Prof. Dr. Guillaume Habert, we are exploring how 3D-printing technologies and materials can be optimised for architectural applications and for opportunities for sustainable design as a result.

Principal Investigators: Prof. Benjamin DillenburgerProf. Dr. Robert J. Flatt

Main Collaborators: Andrei Jipa, Hyunchul Kwon, Dr. Timothy Wangler, Nicolas Ruffray, Vera Voney

Extended Collaborators: Prof. Dr. Joseph Schwartz, Pietro Odaglia, Philippe Fleischmann

External Collaborators: Dr. Mania Meibodi, Mathias Bernhard, Demetris Shammas, Moritz Begle


Aghaei Meibodi, Mania, Mathias Bernhard, Benjamin Dillenburger, Andrei Jipa. 2017. “The Smart Takes from the Strong” In Fabricate, 210-17. London:UCL Press.

Jipa, Andrei, Mathias Bernhard, Benjamin Dillenburger, Mania Aghaei Meibodi. 2016. “3D Printed Stay-in-Place Formwork for Topologically Optimised Concrete Slabs.” TxA: Emerging Design and Technology 2016, San Antonio, Texas. Accepted for publication.

Wangler, Timothy, Ena Lloret, Lex Reiter, Norman Hack, Fabio Gramazio, Matthias Kohler, Mathias Bernhard, et al. 2016. “Digital Concrete: Opportunities and Challenges.” RILEM Technical Letters 1 (0): 67–75. doi:10.21809/rilemtechlett.2016.16.

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