Built digitally to “live digitally”: DFAB House required the use of robots and 3D printers in its construction


All images credit: Roman Keller

DFAB House has recently been inaugurated. Based on the NEST building of Empa and Eawag in Dübendorf (Switzerland), the house bas been built using digital manufacturing which includes the use of robots and 3D Printers.

The construction of this unit gathers eight professorships at ETH Zurich, within the framework of the National Center of Competence in Research (NCCR) “Digital Fabrication” and industrial partners.

In implementing a construction project like DFAB HOUSE, traditional construction methods meet new concepts of the digital world. The path from the digital drawing board to an actual building has challenged both scientists and experts from industry. Through a constructive dialog, something truly visionary can now be put into practice; hopefully it will soon be used broadly in the construction industry,” says Empa CEO Gian-Luca Bona.

At the technical level, the teams used a continuous robotic slip-forming process called Smart Dynamic Casting (SDC) to install the concrete façade mullions. The process enables the prefabrication of material-optimised load-bearing concrete structures using a formwork significantly smaller than the structure produced.

Furthermore, using 3D sand printing for its formwork, they manufactured an 80 m2 lightweight concrete slab. “Just 20 mm thick at its thinnest point, decoratively ribbed and not even half as heavy as a conventional concrete ceiling: with “Smart Slab”, the name says it all. The slab combines the structural strength of concrete with the design freedom of 3D printing.”

The slab weights 15 tonne ceiling and integrates eleven concrete segments. Moreover, it connects the lower floor with the two-storey timber volume above.

The construction of the DFAB House might be among the first houses built digitally in Switzerland, but researchers follow the innovation initiated by other European and Asiatic countries.

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Kety S.

Corporate communication and content marketing specialist at 3D Adept, Kety has a great interest in technological innovations, precisely for the scope of 3D printing on different sectors of activity. In order to take advantage of it, a wide range of innovations still have to be discovered about the technologies that shape the world of tomorrow.

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