World’s first 3D printed facade in Chattanooga, Tennessee

A new neighbourhood bank branch in Chattanooga, Tennessee claims to have the world’s first 3D printed glass-fibre reinforced concrete (GFRC) facade.

Panels for the wavy envelope on Tennessee Valley Federal Credit Union’s new Southside Branch, which opened this week on 19 May, were produced by Chattanooga-based Branch Technology, an architectural fabricator specialising in 3D printing.

Branch Technology used computational design to generate the facade’s complex form, with the digital model guiding its printing robots, it said in statements to GCR.

It said the facade was "robust, insulative and lightweight", and that its proprietary system creates structures using 20 times less material than traditional layered-deposition techniques.

  • See the panels being installed:


Robots mill the panels down to their final surface profile, apply a thin layer of GFRC, followed by a water repellent, self-cleaning finish.

John McCabe, Branch Technology’s brand director, said the undulating facade directs the eye to the building’s corner tower and main entrance, and helps the branch stand out in the suburban cityscape.

"This project is a staple of design freedom offering a one-of-a-kind product outside the literal box of repetitive, conventional construction and facade manufacturing," he said.

Branch Technology says its proprietary system creates structures using 20 times less material than traditional layered-deposition techniques

The full-service branch will be TVFCU’s 20th. "While our competitors are closing branches, we are opening them," said TVFCU’s chief executive, Todd Fortner. "We are constantly looking for better ways to serve our membership. We saw a void in our service area and decided to add a branch."

Personal encounter

Branch Technology moved to Chattanooga as a start-up with three people and one robot in 2014, and now works from a 40,000-sq-ft manufacturing facility with 15 robots.

Its work for TVFCU resulted from a personal encounter with Todd Fortner, who said: "Several years ago, I had the opportunity to visit Branch Technology when they were located in the Chattanooga Chamber of Commerce’s Business Incubator. I was amazed at what could be made on a large scale with 3D printing. I immediately began to think about how we could incorporate this new technology into a future project."

Top image: TVFCU’s new Southside Branch opened this week on 19 May (Photographs supplied by Branch Technology)

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