A novel rapid additive manufacturing concept for architectural composite shell construction inspired by the shell formation in land snails

, , , , , , und . Bioinspiration & biomimetics 13 (2): 026010 (2018)


State-of-the-art rapid additive manufacturing (RAM)—specifically fused filament fabrication (FFF)—has gained popularity among architects, engineers and designers for the quick prototyping of technical devices, the rapid production of small series and even the construction scale fabrication of architectural elements. The spectrum of producible shapes and the resolution of detail, however, are determined and constrained by the layer-based nature of the fabrication process. These aspects significantly limit FFF-based approaches for the prefabrication and in situ fabrication of free-form shells at the architectural scale. Snails exhibit a shell building process that suggests ways to overcome these limits. They produce a soft, pliable proteinaceous film—the periostracum—which later hardens and serves, among other functions, as a form-giving surface for an inner calcium carbonate layer. Snail shell formation behavior is interpreted from a technical point of view to extract potentially useful aspects for a biomimetic transfer. A RAM concept for the continuous extrusion of thin free-form composite shells inspired by the snail shell formation is presented.

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