Foster + Partners looking into 3D printing ‘entire buildings’

Practice developing 'all-in-one hybrid machines' as part of LASIMM consortium

Foster + Partners has announced it’s working on ways to 3D print whole buildings directly from CAD models.

The world famous architecture practice was one of the first to see the possibilities for the construction sector, and bought its first 3D printer way back in 2004. Rapid prototyping has “revolutionised” the architectural and engineering industries in recent years, said the firm, and the process “now also offers myriad possibilities in the construction of prefabricated building components, enabling entire buildings to be 3D printed in the future”.

Collaborations have been ongoing a number of partners to work out how to bring large-scale concrete printing tech to market, and it sounds like they may be close to cracking it.

The just-announced LASIMM project (Large Additive Subtractive Integrated Modular Machine) is aiming to develop “all-in-one hybrid machines” to enable production from CAD models, thereby allowing the building industry to move away from standardised components and slashing both timescales and cost.

Ten partners are involved in the ambitious project, including the entire supply chain needed to produce such a machine, two Universities and two research institutes. They include the European Federation for Welding, Joining and Cutting, BAE Systems (Operations) Ltd., Foster + Partners Limited, Vestas Wind Systems A/S, Cranfield University, Global Robots Ltd., Loxin2002, S.L., Helmholtz-Zentrum, Geesthacht Zentrum fur Material – und Kustenforschung GMBH, Delcam Ltd. and Instituto Superior Técnico.

Image: Foster + Partners