Hierarchical Structures, Computational Design, and Digital 3D Printing


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International Association for Shell and Spatial Structures


Current advances in construction automation, especially in large-scale additive manufacturing, highlight the vast potential for robots in architecture. Robotic construction is unique in its potential to reproduce highly complex structures. To advance the question of how rapid prototyping techniques are adopted in large-scale 3D printing of forms and structures, this paper presents computational methods for the design and robotic construction of cellular membranes. This research presents a comprehensive morphological model of structurally differentiated cellular membranes based on the theoretical biology model of hierarchical structures found in natural cellular solids, and, more specifically, in trabecular bone. The morphological model originates from a system of forces in equilibrium; therefore, it presents the geometric homology of a static tensional system. This research offers a methodology for the design and manufacture of meso- to large-scale triangulated geometric configurations by discrete design methods that are suitable for the robotic fused deposition of lattices and their architectural implementation in the automated manufacturing of shell structures. First, this paper explores how a form can be digitally created by geometrically emulating a given static system of forces in space. Second, inspired by the complex mechanical behavior of cancellous bone, we apply hierarchical principles found in bone remodeling to characterize discrete units that conform to continuous trabecular-like lattices. We study the geometry, limitations, opportunities for optimization, and mechanical characteristics of the lattice. The computational design methods and additive manufacturing techniques are tested in the design and construction hierarchical structures.