World's first 3D-printed facade revealed in Tennessee
25 May 2021
A new bank in Chattanooga, Tennessee claims to have the world’s first 3D-printed glass-fibre reinforced concrete (GFRC) facade.
Panels for the wavy envelope on Tennessee Valley Federal Credit Union’s new Southside Branch, which opened recently, were produced by Chattanooga-based Branch Technology, an architectural fabricator specialising in 3D printing.
Branch Technology used computational design to generate the facade’s complex form, with the digital model guiding its printing robots.
It said the facade was “robust, insulative and lightweight”, and that its proprietary system creates structures using 20 times less material than traditional layered-deposition techniques.
Robots mill the panels down to their final surface profile, apply a thin layer of GFRC, followed by a water repellent, self-cleaning finish.
John McCabe, Branch Technology brand director, said the undulating facade directs the eye to the building’s corner tower and main entrance, and helps the branch stand out in the suburban cityscape.
“This project is a staple of design freedom offering a one-of-a-kind product outside the literal box of repetitive, conventional construction and facade manufacturing,” he said.
Branch Technology moved to Chattanooga as a start-up with three people and one robot in 2014, and now works from a 40,000-sq-ft manufacturing facility with 15 robots.