German design firm Studio 7.5 recently teamed up with French concrete 3D printing company XTreeE to construct a series of 3D printed benches. The benches, notable for their woven textures, demonstrate how additive manufacturing can be employed to produce architectural concrete structures.
More than just showcasing how 3D printing technology can be leveraged to produce structures in a new way, the 3D printed bench by Studio 7.5 and XtreeE serves as an interesting case study on the varied benefits of using AM for construction and specifically concrete manufacturing.
That is, rather than create a mold and pour concrete into it, these benches were directly constructed using XtreeE’s industrial robotic 3D printing platform (which integrates a special concrete material feeding system and print head). This enabled Studio 7.5 to reduce the time needed to manufacture the benches and gave them greater flexibility in terms of form and, down the line, customization.
In fact, a full-scale prototype of the woven bench was 3D printed in just 52 minutes. When tested, the solid concrete structure weighed 181 kg (400 lbs.) and could support significant weight. This rapid and effective method of manufacturing benches and other similar structures would enable urban planners to better “predict production time, weight and cost,” thus ensuring more transparency with clients and stakeholders.
Looking at the 3D printed bench aesthetically, the U-shaped form is simple enough. Though upon a close inspection, the bench’s texture evokes the weaving of textiles. This pattern, Studio 7.5 explains, is a result of the printing pattern. “What we call texture is actually the construction principle,” it writes. “The height and frequency of the continuous sinus waved printing path varies in order to provide optimal stability.”
The benches are also designed to be fabricated in a range of different sizes and heights, allowing for them to be arranged in different configurations. For instance, they can be overlapped and connected in dynamic ways.
Conceptually, Studio 7.5 envisions its 3D printed benches constructed sustainably from local materials. Dust byproducts from stone pits, for example, could be recycled and used to create localized (and lower cost) concrete mixtures. Using local materials also adds another advantage.
As the design studio indicates: “An inherent benefit of using local materials is the natural integration into the environment: color and material reflect the natural context and blend into the unique atmosphere of a place.” Similarly, Studio 7.5 has designed the benches so that the woven texture will age and become impacted by the environment, resulting in an “organic patina.”