Skip to main content

Piling and pressing: towards a method of 3D printing reinforced concrete columns


This paper introduces a speculative method of 3D printing reinforced concrete columns called “piling and pressing.” Innovations in concrete 3D printing research are discussed, specifically those that pertain to the integration of reinforcement, the customization of printing extruders, and the development of 3D printed concrete structures as architectural components. Previous research into an experimental technique of 3D printing concrete called “pointillistic, time-based deposition” (PTBD) is introduced. Findings from research into PTBD that led to the development of the piling and pressing method are presented. The custom concrete 3D printing system that was innovated in order to develop the piling and pressing method is outlined in detail, including its material systems, mechatronic configurations, and temporal parameters. Challenges in both the prototyping of this system and the piling and pressing method are discussed. Finally, future investigations into the piling and pressing method are outlined with a particular emphasis on those that will advance this method towards full-scale architectural construction.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

Fig. 1
Fig. 2
Fig. 3
Fig. 4
Fig. 5
Fig. 6
Fig. 7
Fig. 8
Fig. 9
Fig. 10
Fig. 11
Fig. 12
Fig. 13
Fig. 14
Fig. 15
Fig. 16


  • American Concrete Institute (2011) Building code requirements for structural concrete (ACI 318–11). Farmington Hills, MI

    Google Scholar 

  • Bos FP, Wolfs RJM, Ahmed ZY, Salet TAM (2016) Additive manufacturing of concrete in construction: potentials and challenges of 3D concrete printing. Virtual Phys Prototyp 11(3):209–225

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Bos FP, Ahmed ZY, Jutinov ER, Salet TAM (2017) Experimental exploration of metal cable as reinforcement in 3D printed concrete. Materials 10:1–22

    Google Scholar 

  • Bos FP, Bosco E, Salet TAM (2019) Ductility of 3D printed concrete reinforced with short straight steel fibers. Virtual Phys Prototyp 14(2):160–174

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Cohen Z (2018) Hold up: machine delay in architectural design. In: Proceedings of the 2018 robotic fabrication in architecture, art, and design conference. Association for Robots in Architecture, Zurich, pp 126–138

  • Hack N, Laurer WV (2014) Mesh mould: robotically fabricated spatial meshes as reinforced concrete formwork. Architect Des 84(3):44–53

    Google Scholar 

  • Koshnevis B (2014) Automated construction by contour crafting—related robotics and information technologies. Autom Constr 13(1):5–19

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Lasky J (2019) A 3D print-out you could call home. Accessed 1 Dec 2019

  • Lloret Fristchi E, Reiter L, Wangler T, Gramazio F, Kohler M, Flatt RJ (2017) Smart dynamic casting: slipforming with flexible formwork – inline measurement and control. In: Proceeding of the 11th high performance concrete and the 2nd concrete innovation conference, Tromsø, Norway

  • Nematollahi B, Xia M, Sanjayan J (2017) Current progress of 3D concrete printing technologies. In: Proceedings of the 34th international symposium on automation and robotics in construction. IAARC, Taipei

  • Nerella VN, Ogura H, Mechtherine V (2018a) Incorporating reinforcement into digital concrete construction. In: Proceedings of the IASS symposium 2018: creativity in structural design, Boston

  • Nerella VN, Hempel S, Mechtcherine V (2018b) Effect of layer-interface properties on mechanical performance of concrete elements produced by extrusion-based 3D printing. Constr Build Mater 205:586–601

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Rael R, San Fratello V (2011) Developing concrete polymer building components for 3D printing. In: Proceedings of the 2011 association for computer-aided design in architecture conference, ACADIA, Calgary

  • Steven P (2019) Robots 3d-print nine different concrete columns without any formwork. Accessed 1 Dec 2019

  • Valente M, Sibai A, Sambucci M (2019) Extrusion-based additive manufacturing of concrete product: revolutionizing and remodeling the construction industry. J Compos Sci 3(88):1–20

    Google Scholar 

  • Vialva T (2019) Sunconomy to develop 3D printed concrete homes in Texas. Accessed 2 Dec 2019

  • Zivkovic S, Battaglia C (2018) Rough pass extrusion tooling: CNC post-processing of 3D-printed sub-additive concrete lattice structures. In: Proceedings of the 2018 association for computer-aided design in architecture conference, ACADIA, Mexico City, 302–11

Download references


This research is made possible through the support of the Christos Yessios Visiting Professorship and the Knowlton School of Architecture. The authors would also like to thank William Klotnia and Michael Baumberger for their assistance.

Author information

Authors and Affiliations


Corresponding author

Correspondence to Zach Cohen.

Additional information

Publisher's Note

Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Cohen, Z., Carlson, N. Piling and pressing: towards a method of 3D printing reinforced concrete columns. Constr Robot 4, 61–73 (2020).

Download citation

  • Received:

  • Accepted:

  • Published:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI:


  • Digital fabrication
  • Concrete 3D printing
  • Reinforced concrete
  • Architectural design
  • Building construction