Innovative Future Tree was built by robots and 3D-printing

July 29, 2020 by  
Filed under Eco, Green, Recycle

Robotic construction has taken another step forward with the Future Tree, a recently completed timber canopy built with robots in a project by Gramazio Kohler Research and ETH Zurich . Completed in October 2019, following 2 years of planning and approximately 4 months of construction, the Future Tree is a study of complex timber structures and digital concrete. The tree-like canopy was installed over the courtyard of the office building extension of Basler & Hofmann in Esslingen, Switzerland. An industrial robot was used to fabricate and assemble the Future Tree’s 380 timber elements made from acetylated pine wood and fitted with full-threaded screws and tension cables to form a reciprocal frame. The structure’s canopy-like crown is supported by a single, trunk-like concrete column and anchored to the office building on two sides while cantilevering on the opposite corner. Related: Robots weave an insect-inspired carbon-fiber forest in London “The frame’s geometry is informed by its structural behaviour, differentiating its flexural rigidity by playing with the opening of the reciprocal knots to achieve a higher stiffness in the cantilevering part,” Gramazio Kohler Research’s explained. “To integrate geometric, structural and fabrication concerns we developed a custom computational model of the design.” Perhaps the most noteworthy aspect of the project is Future Tree’s reinforced concrete column, which was made with a novel fabrication process called “Eggshell” that combines an ultra-thin, robotically 3D-printed formwork with fast-hardening concrete. As the first built example using this fabrication process, Future Tree “shows [how] non-standard concrete structures can be fabricated efficiently, economically and sustainably,” according to Gramazio Kohler Research. Because the formwork — which is 3D-printed to a thickness of 1.5 millimeters using a robotic arm — is filled with fast-hardening concrete in a layer-by-layer casting process to minimize hydrostatic pressure, it can be recycled and reused after the concrete has hydrated. + Gramazio Kohler Research Images by Gramazio Kohler Research, ETH Zurich and Basler & Hofmann AG

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Innovative Future Tree was built by robots and 3D-printing


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