Airlements: A Lightweight and Insulating Monolithic Wall System
Made with Mineral Foam 3D Printing
Authors Patrick Bedarf, Etienne Jeoffroy, Benjamin Dillenburger
Published in Proceedings of the 43rd Annual Conference for the Association for Computer Aided Design in Architecture (ACADIA) conference website
Abstract Foam 3D printing investigates additive manufacturing of porous construction materials for novel lightweight and insulating building components. It leverages the opportunities of automated, moldless fabrication that can reduce waste, hazardous labor, and costs for material-efficient, geometrically-optimized, and previously cost-prohibitive structures. Moreover, the thermal resistance of porous materials addresses the insulation performance of building elements and can help to reduce the operational energy consumption of buildings. Airlements is the largest demonstrator produced in this research using cement-free, geopolymer-based mineral foams made from industrial waste. The two-meter-tall structure composed of four stacked segments explores the advantages of lightweight manual assembly for monolithic non-structural walls. A finish made from cement-free spray plaster completes the facade system. This paper presents the advancements in the robotic 3D-printing setup, the demonstrator design and fabrication, and discusses the advantages and challenges of this novel method. In light of the gaining popularity of large-scale 3D printing, particularly with concrete, this study contributes to the body of work with alternative materials that can improve the sustainability and building physics performance of innovative building elements.