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3D Printed Building Facade

For its new boarding house, the FIT Additive Manufacturing Group has developed a process to create a unique facade. It’s a precedent how the current megatrend of individualization in architecture and construction industry can be furthered by using 3D printing.

In the next few years, architects and building companies will resort more and more to the fantastic potential of Additive Manufacturing. FIT is showcasing how to integrate 3D printing purposefully into the construction process. "It's a fact that there are not enough hotel rooms in Lupburg. This actually represents a restriction to our growth", explains Carl Fruth, CEO of FIT. "We operate worldwide and more and more customers from abroad are coming to visit us here. Apart from this, we intend to be an attractive employer for highly qualified staff", Fruth continues. So the idea of the boarding house was born, and it would not have been FIT, would it not excel by an individual facade unthinkable without 3D printing.

The eye-catching new boarding house on the AM campus of FIT Additive Manufacturing Group is the result of a close collaboration between the FIT product designers, architects Berschneider + Berschneider, and the Sto Group, a manufacturer and developer of lightweight construction systems. The facade stands out by a novel surface accentuated by a complex pattern of cavities, so that the massive geometry of the matte dark cube gains a sense of delicacy and lightness. The crystal design is an allusion to the polygons that are the typical element of the triangle mesh – the smallest unit of data models in 3D printing and a very subtle design message.

The project "Facade 3000" is an innovative case study for 3D printed production tools in architecture. Special challenges included the creation of a cost-saving tool to produce individual facade panels on a larger scale, as well as the fast and economic production of the mounting panels. The development of this tool insert is part of the service portfolio of FIT.

The characteristic cavities are achieved by specially designed inserts into the panel molds. These inserts were also manufactured by FIT, using aluminum and laser melting. Due to the extravagant geometrical form of the crystal inserts, this solution turned out to be significantly less costly than the corresponding conventional techniques. The only finishing effort left was blasting and grinding the edges evenly. They were immediately ready to integrate in the production tool by STO to form the design panels, allowing for an efficient workflow. Production speed of 20 simultaneous panels (in rotation) was another positive expense factor.

“With the help of the right additive knowhow, individualized facades will cost pretty much the same as standard facades in 5 years”, predicts Carl Fruth.

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