Robotic 3D Printing of Mineral Foam for a Lightweight Composite Facade Shading Panel

Authors Patrick Bedarf, Dinorah Martinez Schulte, Ayca Şenol, Etienne Jeoffroy, and Benjamin Dillenburger
Published in Proceedings of the 26th CAADRIA Conference – Volume 1, pp. 603-612
Year 2021
DOI 10.52842/conf.caadria.2021.1.603

Abstract This paper presents the design and fabrication of a lightweight composite facade shading panel using 3D printing (3DP) of mineral foams. Albeit their important role in industrial construction practice as insulators and lightweight materials, only little research has been conducted to use foams in 3DP. However, the recent development of highly porous mineral foams that are very suitable for extrusion printing opens a new chapter for development of geometrically complex lightweight building components with efficient formwork-free additive manufacturing processes. The work documented in this paper was based on preliminary material and fabrication development of a larger research endeavor and systematically explored designs for small interlocking foam modules. Furthermore, the robotic 3D Printing setup and subsequent processing parameters were tested in detail. Through extensive prototyping, the design space of a final demonstrator shading panel was mapped and refined. The design and fabrication process is documented and shows the potential of the novel material system in combination with fiber-reinforced ultra-high performance concrete (UHPC). The resulting composite shading panel highlights the benefits of using mineral foam 3DP to fabricate freeform stay-in-place formwork for lightweight facade applications. Furthermore, this paper discusses the challenges and limitations encountered during the project and gives a conclusive outlook for future research.

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