3D Printing In Architecture

3D Printed Structures: How 3D Printing is Impacting Architecture

Modern architecture is classified by the presence of complex designs of remarkable structures. This can be seen in the spectacular building design choices we see around us. Shapes of these structures illustrate an artistic expression of the architect’s work and style. 3D renders and models are now an integral part of visualizing the design of the structure. The introduction of 3D printing has enabled designers and architects to experiment with the creation of structures that leverage the prowess of 3D printing technology. As a result, we see impressive 3D printed structures that challenge the conventions of traditional architecture.


3D printing has many advantages and its introduction to architecture has produced excellent results. Here are some of the benefits of using 3D printing in architecture.


  • These designs that allow makers to optimally distribute the construction material.
  • The amount of waste is greatly minimized due to the use of specialized printing materials.
  • The placement of the material used is laid only where it is required.
  • The versatility of the printing process gives creators complete freedom in terms of form and shape.
  • The optimal end designs maximize the strength of the structure.


Here are some of the marvels of 3D printed architecture and structures from around the globe.


The largest 3D printed structure was built by the US firm Apis Cor. They built the office building for the Dubai City Council in merely two weeks. There are no structural limitations in the design, which does not look much different from the rectangular-type conventional buildings. The foundations were laid by human labor, and after that, the huge Apis Cor 3D printer went to work and started erecting the walls. The filament used for the build was a specially formulated gypsum-based mixture. The raw materials for the filament were also sourced from a local supplier to reduce the carbon footprint.

Apis Cor

A crane guided the printer as it completed builds of different sections. The total area of this 3D printed structure is a hundred square meters, and it stands nine and a half meters tall. The staircase that joins the two stories of the building was also built by a 3D printer. The project was a huge success, and the authorities plan on increasing the number of 3D printed buildings in the city to 25% by 2030.


TU Delft

TU Delft, Materialise and other collaborators have developed these customizable acoustic panels. Acoustics are a huge part of how humans experience sounds and ambiance in any space. Whether it be a concert, a café, or even in their own house. These acoustic panels are designed to absorb any unnecessary sound waves, such as the ones usually made from wood, fabric, foam, or any high-density fiberglass. These 3D printed acoustic panels are surely going to enhance the user experience that we can have in different spaces and something that can be 3D printed at home.


studio RAP

The interesting use of 3D printed structures is the Studio RAP 3D-Printed ceramic tiles. They are planning on using these tiles to decorate the gates of a new residential building block in Delft, the Netherlands. This one-of-a-kind project reinterprets the infamous decorative traits of Delft blue porcelain. This is an effort to celebrate the legendary Decor design through a contemporary and detailed sight. The Dutch company, studio RAP has blended3D ceramic printing, computational designs with artistic flair. This reveals the promise of 3D printing in the revival of traditional decorative styles through contemporary practice and technology.



The Ashen Cabin

HANNAH is an innovative and experimental design approach that incorporates new and emerging technologies for material, cultural, and spatial experimentation. The Ashen Cabin was widely praised for its unique design by architects and designers. It combines 3D printed pieces with an unconventional lumber design to give the cabin its unusual look. The individuals behind this practice are Sasa Zivkovic and Leslie Lok, Assistant Professors of Architecture at Cornell University. They have created the Ashen Cabin, and its prototype is situated Near the University campus, in the forests of Ithaca, NY.


MAS DFAB in Architecture and Digital Fabrication | ETH Zurich

This 3D printed structure called Concrete Choreography is a 3D printed stage using concrete filament. It consists of nine separately designed columns structures that were printed in full height within 2.5 hours and engineered without any formwork. Each of these columns is over 8.9-feet-tall. Originally, they were a part of the Origen Festival in Riom, Switzerland. A newly designed 3D printing process for concrete was developed for the construction of this stage. Students of ETH Zurich’s Master of Advanced Studies in Digital Fabrication and Architecture program led this project.


TERA is an eco-habitat 3D printed structure created using space-grade materials and technology capable of long-term sustainability in the Martian environment. the NASA award-winning company AI Spacefactory developed the design and created this project. They leveraged the versatility of 3D printing and combined it with compostable materials to create this prototype.

3D Printed Structures
TERA: Experience the Future of Living on @indiegogo


This 3D printed structure in Shanghai, China took inspiration from the ancient Anji Bridge in Zhaoxian, China. This pedestrian bridge is made up of a specially designed concrete system by the XWG Archi-Studio. It also won the Popular Vote award from the 2019 A+Awards in the Architecture + Technology class. The bridge stretches across 26.3 meters and is 3.6 meters wide.

3D printed structures
3D Printed Pedestrian Bridge

Right now, it is safe to say that 3D printing technology has the potential to change traditional architectural designs and approaches. Although the 3D printed structures are still in the early stages, we can expect to see the integration of 3D printing technology on a much larger scale in the future.

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