Robots 3D-print concrete columns without formwork

Concrete buildings are on the brink of a new phase of development if a new 3D printing process developed at the science and technology university ETH Zurich can be commercially applied.

In a recent experiment at the university, the printing process has been used to produce nine individually designed concrete columns. 

The fabrication process allows the production of concrete elements without the need for any formwork. In addition, one-off designs with complex geometries can be fabricated in a fully automated manner.

Hollow concrete structures are printed in a way where the material can be strategically used only where needed, allowing a more sustainable approach to concrete architecture.

Each of the nine 2.7m tall columns was concrete 3D printed at full height in two and a half hours.

The ETH Zurich team says that the digitally designed material ornamentation and surface texture shows the versatility and significant aesthetic potential of 3D concrete printing in large-scale structures.

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  1. Are these mass concrete or reinforced? If reinforced, how does that work?

  2. The video shows them lowering a cage inside and then filling with more concrete. These seem to be effctively a permanent, decorative formwork. Beautiful result though. I wonder if they can be sanded smooth?

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