Eidgenössische Technische Hochschule (ETH) Zürich, a technical school in Zurich, reports on a fascinating project that several ETH Zurich professors are collaborating with some outside business interests on. It involves both robots AND 3D printing.

At the DFAB HOUSE, four construction methods are for the first time being transferred from research to architectural applications. Construction work began with the Mesh Mould technology, which received the Swiss Technology Award at the end of 2016; it was developed by an interdisciplinary team and could fundamentally alter future construction with concrete. Here, the two-metre high construction robot In situ Fabricator plays a central role; it moves autonomous-ly on caterpillar tracks even in a constantly changing environment. 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 characterise the architecture of the open-plan living and work-ing area on the ground floor. A Smart Slab will then be installed – a statically optimised and functionally integrated ceiling slab, the formwork of which was manufactured using a large-scale 3D sand printer.

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.

Here’s video of the process: