Branch Technology, the Chattanooga, Tennessee company behind the C-FAB construction 3D printing technique, recently presented what it is calling the world’s largest 3D printed structure. The structure, unveiled as part of the International Association for Shell and Spatial Structures last week, is located at Nashville’s OneC1TY business center.
Standing at 20 feet (6.1 m) in height and spanning 42 feet (12.8 m), Branch Technology’s large-scale structure is certainly an impressive one to behold. Described as a bandshell pavilion, the towering curved installation was commissioned by Texas-based developer Cambridge and was designed with the aim of embodying some of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.
The original concept for the 3D printed pavilion was presented to Branch Technologies, which, after close analysis discovered it would require reinforcing steel structures, which would not only take away from the 3D printing focus of the project but also add considerable costs to its execution. To get around this, Branch’s team redesigned elements of the structure using evolutionary form-finding tools and specialized software meant for the aerospace industry.
Ultimately, the company was able to come up with a design for the bandshell structure that did not require any steel reinforcements (with the exception of the base plates) and maintained the aesthetic of Cambridge’s original design concept.
The design for the OneC1TY-destined structure was also put through topology optimization and panelization before being 3D printed in 40 separate sections. Each large-scale section of the bandshell was printed using Branch Technology’s freeform C-FAB 3D printer, which extrudes a carbon reinforced polymer that solidifies as it is printed.
Once the printing was complete, the 40 pieces of the structure were transported to Nashville’s OneC1TY business center, where they were assembled on site. The final structure, measuring 20 feet in height and 42 feet in span, claims to be the largest 3D printed structure, though it is unclear whether Guinness World Records have confirmed it yet.
It is also worth noting that the 3D printed bandshell pavilion was designed to withstand an inch of ice buildup, 10-12 inches of snow and 90 mile per hour wind loads, complying with Nashville’s building codes.