Continuous Fused Deposition Modelling of Architectural Envelopes Based on the Shell Formation of Molluscs: A Research Review

Part of the Biologically-Inspired Systems book series (BISY, volume 8)


Land snails produce a highly structured functionally integrated self-supporting surface from a composite of organic and inorganic materials that posses a potentially rich source of aspects for possible transfer into the technical realm. These investigations form a basis for the concept of a machine setup harvesting potentials for architectural manufacturing. A computational design tool, incorporating the limitations of the production mechanism, the design intent and structural, architectural and functional aspects, has been established to integrate the fabrication in early stages of the architectural design.

The project presented here aims at developing a novel additive-manufacturing process and integrated computational design method for the construction of self-supporting lightweight architectural envelopes based on the investigation of the shell formation process in land snails with a strong focus on the production of microscopically structured functional surface textures, the use and adaptation of composite material properties and the interplay between mechanical formation and molecular self-assembly at various scales.

In architecture, layer manufacturing processes are currently based on the upscaling of relatively small-scale 3D printing techniques. The inherent drawbacks are that these methods suffer from a trade-off between the degree of surface detail, the overall size of the building and its elements as well as production speed. Biological role models can serve both as conceptual idea generators and deliver tangible manufacturing setups. This can lead to an additive-manufacturing technology that not only satisfies the structural, spatial and functional requirements of architectural fabrication, but can also operate at larger scales.


Biomimetics Molluscs Snails Shell formation Periostracum Biological role-models Technical transfer Continuous deposition Additive-manufacturing technology rchitectural envelopes Computational design 



We thank the German Research Foundation (DFG) for supporting the Collaborative Research Center SFB-TRR 141: Biological Design and Integrative Structures – Analysis, Simulations and Implementation in Architecture, project A08.


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© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of GeosciencesUniversity of TübingenTübingenGermany
  2. 2.Institute for Computational Design (ICD)University of StuttgartStuttgartGermany
  3. 3.Institute for Control Engineering of Machine Tools and Manufacturing UnitsUniversity of StuttgartStuttgartGermany
  4. 4.Faculty of Mathematics and PhysicsUniversity of FreiburgFreiburgGermany

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