Sustainable Thin-Shell 3D Printed Formwork for Concrete

  • Matthias LeschokEmail author
  • Benjamin Dillenburger
Conference paper


With the growth in popularity of 3D printing technologies, machinery is getting cheaper, while the variety of available materials is growing larger. However, 3D printing strategies for realizing architecture are still in their infancy. Direct 3D printing of building components is a very challenging task, as most printing technologies are, until now, not able to address the demanding requirements of architectural components, including scale or structural capacity.

The conventional way of creating formwork for non-standard, concrete components is very labour intensive and until today, can be more than 50% of the cost of casting concrete. This research addresses this very topic by proposing a sustainable, 3D printed formwork for casting concrete, combining the advancements of computation and digital fabrication with the traditional way of constructing large concrete components.

It aims in the creation of dissolvable, 3D printed formwork that can be simply washed away after the curing process of concrete, using only water and no additional chemical solvent. Introducing such a process, it enables to create bespoke, full-scale structural components, without compromising the complexity of form or surface quality.


3D printing Concrete formwork Dissolvable formwork 



The authors would like to thank a number of partners and collaborators whose dedication helped us fulfil the research described in this paper. Besides our industry partner we would like to thank Marirena Kladeftira, Mathias Bernhard, Andrei Jipa, Julius Hatt and Leander Pepper for all their contributions during this research.


  1. 1.
    Crow, J.M.: The concrete conundrum. Chem. World 5(3), 62–66 (2008)Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Søndergaard, A., Feringa, J., Nørbjerg, T., Steenstrup, K., Brander, D., Graversen, J., Markvorsen, S., et al.: Robotic hot-blade cutting. In: Reinhardt, D., Saunders, R., Burry, J., (eds.) ROB/ARCH 2016, Robotic Fabrication in Architecture, Art and Design 2016, pp. 150–164. Springer, Cham (2016)Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Rust, R., Jenny, D., Gramazio, F., Kohler, M.: Spatial wire cutting - cooperative robotic cutting of non-ruled surface geometries for bespoke building components. In: Chien, S., Choo, S., Schnabel, M.A., Nakapan, W. (eds.), Living Systems and Micro-Utopias: Towards Continuous Designing, Proceedings of the 21st International Conference of the Association for Computer-Aided Architectural Design Research in Asia CAADRIA 2016, pp. 529–538 (2016)Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    Aghaei-Meibodi, M., Bernhard, M., Jipa, A., Dillenburger, B.: The smart takes from the strong. In: Fabricate 2017, pp. 210–217 (2017)Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    Jipa, A., Meibodi, M.A., Giesecke, R., Shammas, D., Leschok, M., Bernhard, M., Dillenburger, B.: 3D-printed formwork for prefabricated concrete slabs, pp. 1–9, November 2018 (2018)Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    Peters, B.: Additive formwork: 3D printed flexible formwork. In: ACADIA 14: Design Agency, pp. 517–522, Los Angeles (2014)Google Scholar
  7. 7.
  8. 8.
    Jipa, A., Bernhard, M., Ruffray, N., Wangler, T., Flatt, R., Dillenburger, B.: skelETHon formwork 3D printed plastic formwork for load-bearing concrete structures. XXI Congreso Internacional de La Sociedad Iberoamericana de Gráfica Digital 3(12), 345–352 (2017). Scholar
  9. 9.
    Huang, K.-Y., Wang, C.-T., Chou, W.-L., Shu, C.-M.: Removal of polyvinyl alcohol in aqueous solutions using an innovative paired photoelectrochemical oxidative system in a divided electrochemical cell. Int. J. Photoenergy 2015, 9 (2015). Article ID 623492CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. 10.
    Hallensleben, M.L.: Polyvinyl compounds, others. In: Ullmann’s Encyclopedia of Industrial Chemistry. Wiley-VCH, Weinheim (2000).
  11. 11.
  12. 12.
    Barna, J., Torok, J., Novakova-Marcincinova, L., Kuric, I.: Basic and advanced materials for fused deposition modeling rapid prototyping technology. Manuf. Ind. Eng. 11(1), 24–27 (2012)Google Scholar
  13. 13.
  14. 14.
    Cruz, F., Boudaouda, H., Hoppeb, S., Camargoa, M.: Polymer recycling in an open-source additive manufacturing context: mechanical issues. Add. Manuf. 17, 87–105 (2017)Google Scholar
  15. 15.
    Robert, H.: Think formwork–reduce cost. Struct. Mag. 4, 14 (2007)Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Digital Building TechnologiesETH ZürichZürichSwitzerland

Personalised recommendations