ETH zurich explores digital design + robotic 3D printing in a concrete “eggshell pavilion”

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Eggshell Pavilion of ETH zurich and Gramazio Kohler

A group of architectural researchers at ETH Zürich collaborated with Gramazio Kohler develop the ‘Eggshell Pavilion’ by integrating computer design and robotics 3D printing. The pavilion, on display at the Vitra Design Museum in Germany, is based on Eggshell technology which relies on computational methods to design algorithms that generate both structural geometry and manufacturing data for the 3D printing process. .

The project highlights the design possibilities presented by the combination of digital tools and robotic manufacturing, which allow designers to efficiently shape freeform shapes concrete components, unlike traditional formwork processes which are often laborious and expensive.

the Eggshell pavilion is on display at the Vitra Design Museum in Germany

all images courtesy of Gramazio Kohler Research, ETH Zurich

paving the way for a more sustainable use of concrete

The thin formwork for the structural components of the Eggshell pavilion is only three to five millimeters thick. It is made of glass fiber reinforced PET-G, which has been partially recycled from old Eggshell formwork. According to the ETH Zurich team (read more here) and Gramazio Kohler Research (find out more here), printing each of the four columns took about six hours, while printing each of the four panels took up to sixteen hours. Conventional steel reinforcement is used to reinforce the floor slabs as well as the columns. They are attached by reversible joints so that the pavilion can be disassembled and reassembled in different places.

The elements are cast from two different types of concrete. The columns are cast from quick-setting concrete using a numerically controlled casting process. The fast-setting concrete minimizes the pressure on the formwork so that the thin 3D printed forms can be used without risk of breakage. The floor slabs, on the other hand, are cast in conventional self-consolidating concrete, as the formwork pressure is limited due to the low height. Once the concrete is fully cured, the formwork is removed, washed, ground, and reassembled to be reused in new 3D prints.

The design highlights the prospects that 3D printed formwork offers when combined with conventional reinforcement and assembly methods. It demonstrates how Eggshell technology can be used as an industrial-scale scalable system for material-efficient concrete structures and paves the way for more sustainable use of concrete in construction.

ETH zurich explores digital design + robotic 3D printing in a concrete “eggshell pavilion”
the project highlights the design possibilities presented by the combination of digital tools and robotic manufacturing

ETH zurich explores digital design + robotic 3D printing in a concrete “eggshell pavilion”
the thin formwork for the structural components of the Eggshell pavilion is only three to five millimeters thick

ETH zurich explores digital design + robotic 3D printing in a concrete “eggshell pavilion”
printing each of the four columns took approximately six hours, while printing each of the four panels took up to sixteen hours

ETH zurich explores digital design + robotic 3D printing in a concrete “eggshell pavilion”
the columns are cast from quick-setting concrete using a numerically controlled casting process

ETH zurich explores digital design + robotic 3D printing in a concrete “eggshell pavilion” ETH zurich explores digital design + robotic 3D printing in a concrete “eggshell pavilion”

project info:

Last name: Eggshell Pavilion
designers: ETH Zurich, Gramazio Kohler Research

myrto katsikopoulou I conceive

October 05, 2022

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