Tessa’s Designer Pick – ETH Zürich and 3D Printing


Tessa Blokland  


This month I would like to focus on a school instead of a designer or design studio. ETH Zürich is a Swiss university for science and technology, with more than 21,000 students and 528 professors (headcount from 2018). The school, founded in 1854, is a state school and according to the Times World University Rankings, it is listed number 13. And on top of that, it is one of the universities that frequently pops up on social media with impressive 3D printing experiments, innovations, and applications (a full list of projects you will find here). Here are just a few to show you the scope of their 3D printing and additive manufacturing ambitions.

PeakBoil is a 3D printed camping stove, resembling a reminiscent bundt cake tin. The stove hides the gas burner inside shielding it from the wind. Students from the Zürich University of the Arts (ZHdK) and the ETH Zürich design and technology lab collaborated together in this project.

One of the things I like about student life is participating in strange challenges, like the Concrete Canoe Regatta (can you imagine!), organized by the Federal Association of the German Cement Industry for the first time in 1986. In 2017, a research team from ETH Zürich won the first prize for design innovation. The team used 3D-printed moulds to make a skeletal framework for this all-concrete boat and raced it 200 metres without sinking.

The Smart Slab you see on the image is an example of a building application (top image is a detail of the slab), combining the structural strength of concrete with the design freedom of 3D printing. ETH Zürich did not 3D print the building components but created the 3D printed formwork/mould, using a large-scale 3D sand printer, with the finished moulds made from artificial sandstone.

I have featured these 3D printed columns, titled Concrete Choreography, in the blog post here. Thanks to 3D printing, it is possible to reduce the ecological footprint of concrete construction by entirely removing the formwork and by using less concrete.

The ETH Zürich Zentrum campus, built from 1858 to 1864, is located in the centre of Zürich. Gottfried Semper, a professor of architecture at ETH at the time and one of the most important architectural writers and theorists of the age, is the architect of the neoclassical style of the building.

LEO Lane_Designer Pick_ETH Zurich and 3D Printing

Each of Tessa’s designer pick is a curated group of 3D printed designs or projects from one designer or design studio. If you would like to offer a designer or design studio for Tessa, or if you have your own 3D printed designs or projects you would like to see featured, please let us know by commenting below. Subscribe to the newsletter to get the latest picks every week in your mailbox.


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