The shape follows gravity

Construction and Architecture

The shape follows gravity

Architecture and the construction industry have discovered additive manufacturing for themselves: the number of technologies and applications is rising rapidly.

Many architects came into contact with this young technology many years ago through the 3D printing of their designs. But in industrial applications, additive manufacturing is still a relatively new topic in the construction industry. In recent years, however, the industry has discovered 3D printing for itself and made groundbreaking progress with numerous innovative research projects, technological developments and applications.

The intensive plans of ESA and NASA to use additive manufacturing to create habitats on the Moon and Mars have also certainly fuelled discussion and development. And so the first buildings on Earth in Dubai or China have already been 3D-printed and occupied. In Spain, a pedestrian bridge was built using additive manufacturing, in the Netherlands a bicycle bridge. Countries like Dubai are relying heavily on 3D printing for further development: in the near future, a quarter of new buildings are to be based on 3D printing.

The advantages of additive manufacturing in the construction industry are many and varied: In addition, it usually involves individual and complex structures - in other words, the classic area of additive manufacturing. At the same time, this technology can significantly improve the efficiency of production in addition to more complex and artistic forms. This not only affects a higher degree of automation or faster production, but also, for example, lower material consumption or the omission of shuttering.

At the same time, 3D printing of concrete can combine the insulation and load capacity of a wall, for example: Foamed material or cells filled with air insulate against heat and cold, solid elements, perhaps even from bionic structures, provide the necessary stability. Forms can thus follow the loads of gravity.

Higher efficiency and additional added value are generating greater interest among numerous companies: "Companies that use additive manufacturing in the construction industry will be able to profit economically," predicts Prof. Ulrich Knaack, who teaches facade technology at Darmstadt Technical University and is intensively involved in additive manufacturing. Further development will also involve the development of more intelligent 3D-printed parts and components, such as lighter nodes or bricks, or the use of specialized materials.

The manifold possibilities of additive manufacturing for the architecture and construction industry will again be on the agenda of Formnext. Within the BE-AM Symposium the latest developments and research projects will be discussed and current possibilities and upcoming challenges for a broader introduction of AM technology will be highlighted.


  • Construction and Architecture