ETH zurich builds DFAB HOUSE using robots and 3D printers

ETH zurich builds DFAB HOUSE using robots and 3D printers

at the EMPA and EAWAG NEST building in dübendorf, eight ETH zurich professors are collaborating on a three-storey DFAB HOUSE made using predominantly digital processes. built using a two-meter high construction robot, the machine works by moving autonomously on caterpillar tracks.
ETH zurich build DFAB HOUSE robots 3D printers designboom 01



a steel wire mesh fabricated by the robot serves both as formwork and as reinforcement for the concrete. thanks to the dense structure of the steel wire mesh and the special composition of the concrete mix, the concrete stays inside the grid and does not pour out. the result is a double-curved, load-bearing wall that will characterize the architecture of the open-plan living and working area on the ground floor. a smart slab will then be installed – a statically optimized and functionally integrated ceiling slab, the formwork of which was manufactured using a large-scale 3D sand printer.

ETH zurich build DFAB HOUSE robots 3D printers designboom 02



smart dynamic casting technology is being used for the façade on the ground floor: the automated robotic slip-forming process can produce bespoke concrete façade mullions. the two upper floors, with individual rooms, are being prefabricated at ETH zurich’s robotic fabrication laboratory using spatial timber assemblies; cooperating robots will assemble the timber construction elements.

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the DFAB HOUSE is distinctive in that it was not only digitally designed and planned but is also built using predominantly digital processes. with this pilot project, the ETH professors want to examine how digital technologies can make construction more sustainable and efficient, and increase the design potential. the design and planning of individual components were digitally coordinated, and these are now manufactured directly on site according to this data. as a result, the conventional planning phase is no longer needed. as of summer 2018, the three-storey building, with a floor space of 200 m2, will serve as a residential and working space for EMPA and EAWAG guest researchers and partners of NEST.

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computer generated visualisation of the DFAB HOUSE



  • It may exist, but I’d rather see an automated concrete block laying machine that can help at the lower end of the market.


    JimCan says:
  • from the picture it seems the steel is exposed. I appreciate the experiment… but leaving exposed steel in a wall is not a good idea
    Even with a parge it will eventually be exposed to the elements
    good creative effort though.
    maybe go work on a construction site for the summer, come back, and rethink some of this

    dave says:

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