A metal façade from a 3D printed mould

Students from ETH Zurich created complex architectural structures from metal using a 3D printed mould.

Deep Façade, as the project is called, is a 3.5 metre high structure consisting of aluminium in complex shapes. It was created by students of the Digital Fabrication course and explored how 3D printing can be used to create bespoke and affordable metal architectural elements.

Cast metal parts are a beloved tradition in architecture, because of the possibility to 3D form the material and their structural properties. However, the making of moulds is a labour intensive process, which makes it expensive.

By 3D printing the mould, complex shapes can be made that are not possible using traditional methods. Additionally, the costs go drastically down.

The students 3D printed the mould from sand and cast the molten metal in a traditional way. While the metal itself could theoretically also be printed to make complex structures, this process is expensive and can only be done with a limited range of metals.

The façade consists of 26 panels. The design is produced by a differential growth algorithm and mimics the development of certain living organism.

Photos: ETH Zurich