Fluid Morphology

Improvements in concrete 3D printing and other large-scale additive manufacturing techniques are giving way to creation of new building techniques that use these technologies.


Most commonly, these technologies are used to create 3D printed structural elements created using concrete or a special printable mortar; however, very few of these 3D printed structures have presentable 3D printed facades.


One new development in this growing technological area is a 3D printed building envelope concept, called “fluid morphology”. Created by scientists at the Technical University of Munich (TUM), fluid morphology provides for the production of translucent elements that have desirable building properties such as ventilation, insulation, and shading. According to the researchers at TUM, the goal of fluid morphology is to “reduce the building technology, to establish a closed material circuit and to simplify the construction process by the sensible use of the digital tools.”


The TUM façade elements are made using Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM) 3D printing technology. FDM printers use a thermoplastic polymer in a filament form to create three-dimensional objects. In an FDM printer, the filament is pushed into the hot extruder. The filament is heated first and then deposited, through the nozzle, onto a build platform in a layer-by-layer process to form the complete object.


In the case of fluid morphology, the FDM printer heats and extrudes a polycarbonate material that has shown to have weatherproofing properties and tunable acoustics (i.e., a micro-structured surface of the 3D printed plastic allowing sound waves to pass and reflect in certain ways). The façade elements are produced via FDM in one production step.

The concept of fluid morphology to create sustainable, aesthetically pleasing, and functional building façades is promising, and the technology reflects computation, 3D-printing, natural principals, and it may help address the issue of limited resources and supply chain logistics that often slow the building process.


What benefits or drawbacks to you see to using fluid morphology to replace traditional façades? Share it in the comments below. #construction #sustainable #management #green #infrastructure #3Dprinting #fluidmorphology

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