German 3D printing company BigRep has unveiled a fully 3D printed ‘green wall’ developed by its NOWLAB innovation consultancy.
The company, which specialises in large-format polymer 3D printing, says the new ‘BANYAN ECO WALL’ prototype is a world-first, complete with an embedded water supply and drainage system.
The 2000 x 2000 x 600 mm wall’s design was inspired by the multipurpose properties of plant systems and functions as both a support structure for plants and a supply system for water. Created using generative design software, plant carriers organically snap into place and the wall’s miniature internal channels are designed for optimal water flow with an integrated “micro shower” mechanism to irrigate the plants precisely where needed.
BigRep says previous 3D printed green walls – sometimes referred to as living walls or vertical gardens – have relied on metal drainage systems to be integrated separately whereas here the drainage system has been integrated into the print itself. Irrigation systems have also been included to provide a controlled supply of water to meet unique needs of plants and crops without the need for human intervention.
“Our BANYAN ECO WALL is adopting nature’s principle with a complex, smart, and elegant design only achievable with AM. Traditional technologies such as milling or injection moulding cannot deliver this level of complexity and dual functionality”, explains BigRep CEO Stephan Beyer, PhD. “For the first time, thanks to AM and advanced CAD software, it is now possible to create complex functional designs within a fully digitised process chain.”
BigRep CIO and NOWLAB Managing Director Daniel Büning adds, “Generative design software was crucial in the creation of the BANYAN ECO WALL to optimise the structure for printability and stability while allowing a rapid iterative design process. This prototype will push the boundaries of AM not only in irrigated plant systems, such as in vertical farming and green facades, but for any application requiring embedded functionalities.”