Work to start in Tennessee on first-ever free-form printed house

Branch Technology, a Tennessee-based "architect fabricator" that specialises in 3D printing is to begin work this year on what it says is the world’s first free-form printed house.

The Chattanooga company launched the Freeform Home Design Challenge competition for the house in 2016, which was won by California-based architect Wimberley, Allison, Tong & Goo’s (WATG’s) Curve Appeal.

Branch has since been working with the architect’s Chicago office, US consulting engineer Thornton Tomasetti and US Gypsum to test the ability of its C-Fab technology to replicate the design.

C-Span works by printing what Branch calls a cell-like matrix in virtually any shape of form. It says: "Our algorithm creates both the geometry and robotic motion to construct complex geometries in open space, without the use of support materials or highly controlled build environments."

WATG describes this matrix as "essentially, a small space-frame". It says: "The team has been printing test beams and partial wall sections to examine their load bearing capabilities. In generic printed beam tests, a three-foot long beam could carry a load of approximately 3,600 pounds, while only weighing five pounds."

Interior renderings (WATG)

The first Curve Appeal will be built on at Branch Technology’s Chattanooga out of some 100 pieces of printed carbon-fibre-reinforced ABS thermoplastic – the same kind that is used for Lego bricks. The plastic frame can then be sprayed with a cladding material such as concrete or gypsum to increase its strength and add insulation.

The 1,000 sq ft building, which will be net zero energy, will have a mechanical, electrical and plumbing system designed by US firm Interface Engineering, which says the house will have a rooftop solar array and will be designed for the "easy incorporation" of a borehole or in-floor radiant heating system.

The Architect’s Newspaper reports that Branch has recently doubled its production capacity with four printers, and is building a factory. It has already 3D-printed furniture, drone landing pads and the SHoP Pavilion made for 2016’s Design Miami festival.

A video of Branch’s C-Fab system in actions can be seen here.

Top image: Curve Appeal (WATG)

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