3D printing will become a key technology for the manufacturing industry. The next goal is the commercialization of 3D printing. In future, the 3D-printed components should not cost more than the casting or injection molding. For small quantities, e.g. for prototypes, this is already the case today. Also, the printed components should be able to carry technical and static functions which of-course requires material performance too. Today, the load-bearing components made of titanium, ceramics or fiber-reinforced plastics are already being printed. However, concrete, clay and glass can also be processed using 3D printing. 

Due to technical breakthroughs, the printing technology is developing rapidly. Printers with sizes of 1m³ are already commercially available. The upcoming dimensions will make 3D printing very interesting for producing 3D-inlays for space between glass panes. The environmental influences and mechanical stress on 3D-printed inlays between hermetically sealed glass pens is almost zero. Therefore, the application is relatively risk-free, provided the right material is used. 

The inlay can be designed digitally and allows the architect to design their façade as per individual building requirements. Additionally, any organic design from nature could be 3D scanned, digitized, processed and printed in any size. All processes up to the production of the inlay can be digitized. The inlay itself can be printed anywhere in the world.   

Depending on the orientation and location of the building, the individualized inclination of the façade can provide ideal sun protection. A uniform shading can be achieved by aligning all the openings on glass inlays towards North. This can be only be achieved through 3D inlays as in case of OKASOLAR 3D a commercial product already in the market. OKASOLAR 3D, however, is a regular grid with a more technical appearance which means any small deviation to pattern or design would be detected as disturbance by human eye. On the other hand, an irregular, "organic" arrangement is perceived as much more homogeneous pattern.   

Targeted variation of individual areas on 3D-printed inlays, offers sun protection through "organic" design structures. A new way of combining design, architecture and functionality can give another look to our cities.

Dr.-Ing. Frank Schneider