Spong3D: an adaptive 3D printed façade system

With 3D printing you can create tailored products with high complexity in shape. This advantage can be exploited for the building industry too, to address urgent needs for a more sustainable built environment. The project Spong3D from 3TU.Bouw aims to design an adaptive façade system which is able to integrate multiple functions for optimising thermal performances, using additive manufacturing. 

The façade of a building regulates most of the exchanges between indoors and outdoors. Thermal aspects (such as transmission, insulation and heat storage) depend on the changing outdoor conditions and need to meet changing indoor requirements for which adaptivity of the façade is a desirable feature.

The Spon3D project uses tailor-made porous materials fabricated by 3D printing and the movement of fluids to dynamically regulate these exchanges. The system uses cellular structures and movable fluids to accommodate insulation and heat storage where and when needed, according to the indoor/outdoor conditions. It takes principles from sponge systems, in which pores and channels allow water and generally fluids to circulate through the cellular structure of the sponge.

In the proposed system, the cavities of the cellular structure are filled with air for insulation and with fluids for heat storage; air and fluids can circulate across the system, allowing to move the insulation and the thermal mass from the outdoor side of the façade to the indoor side and vice versa.