July 2, 2015 | By Simon

Although we’re still likely at least a decade or so away from seeing the kind of impact that additive manufacturing will have on both the architecture and construction industries, an increasing amount of small businesses have already started to look into ways of making smaller contributions through re-examining how to manufacture existing building materials.  Among other developments that we’ve seen thus far include modular walls that can be built with insulation and can be used to build much larger living structures including apartment buildings.  

More recently, Dutch designers Hans Lankhaar and Bram van den Haspel of Lab3D in Rotterdam have developed and successfully 3D printed a lightweight and energy efficient façade.  Through the use of high resolution 3D printing, Lankhaar and van den Haspel were able to design the façade to easily integrate into existing construction features including piping, window frames and even thermal insulation just by using a single material.   

“We are both fascinated by the possibilities of 3d printing,” state the designers.   

“The world is on the verge of a new era of product design and product distribution. Lab3d aims to contribute to this transition with clever and feasible 3d designs and services that fit the context of the real world.”

While common insulation materials such as mineral wool may have great insulation properties, they don’t add strength to a building structure - a feature that the designers wanted to explore with their project.  

The 3D printed wall design features an outer and inner shell design that is held together by an internal honeycomb structure.  

According to the designers, this internal honeycomb structure not only provides strength and stiffness, but it also has insulating properties as well.  The designers even state that the insulating performance of the 3D printed façade is superior to that of conventional façades that make use of more traditional mineral wool.  Additionally, the natural shape of the honeycomb structure can be tweaked to benefit even more based on custom needs or constraints.

“Most 3D printed objects are quite small, for the simple reason that most 3D printers are small,” explain the designers.   

“But is it feasible to produce a large 3D printed product, like a building? Yes, it is possible to print large objects with a coarse resolution in a short amount of time, but these low resolution objects cannot accommodate technical features like piping and isolation. But printing large products in high resolution is very time consuming. (Our) solution is parallel printing.”

The ultimate goal for the designers is to create a system that can integrate other existing parts into the façade through the use of additive manufacturing.  Ultimately, they believe that the performance and installation of various building systems such as heating, cooling, ventilation and electric systems can be dramatically improved.

“While we’re still a few years out from seeing how 3D printers will take over the building industry, (our) experiment clearly shows the amount of potential,” added the designers.  

 

Posted in 3D Printing Applications

 

 

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