Photographs by ICD University of Stuttgart

BAUBIONIK – ShellRAM – 2017
Stuttgart State Museum of Natural History, Stuttgart, 2017
DFG SFB/Transregio 141, Project A08

State of the art additive manufacturing, specifically Fused Layer Modelling (FLM) has gained popularity among architects, engineers and designers for quick prototyping of technical devices, rapid manufacturing of small series and even construction scale fabrication of architectural elements. The spectrum of producible shapes and the resolution of detail, however, are determined and constrained by the layer-based nature of the fabrication process. These aspects significantly limit FLM-based approaches for the prefabrication and in-situ fabrication of freeform shells at the architectural scale. Snails exhibit a shell building process that suggests ways to overcome these limits. They produce a soft, pliable proteinaceous film – the periostracum – which later hardens and serves, among other functions, as a formgiving surface for an inner calcitic layer.

The project ShellRAM – a collaborative research between the Universities of Stuttgart and Tübingen – intends to employ these biomimetic aspects and fuse them with rapid manufacturing techniques to enable an innovative fast and highly controllable additive manufacturing technology. The focus is on continuous rapid fabrication of composite shell enveloopes at the architectural scale.

Set within the scope of the Transregional Collaborative Research Centre (SFB/Transregio) 141 ‘Biological Design and Integrative Structures’, the project entitled “A08 – Continuous fused deposition modelling of architectural envelopes based on the shell formation of molluscs” is currently on display at the exhibition “Baubionik – Biologie beflügelt Architektur” at the Stuttgart State Museum of Natural History.


ICD Institute for Computational Design and Construction
Benjamin Felbrich, Achim Menges

ISW Institute for Control Engineering of Machine Tools and Manufacturing Units
Frederik Wulle, Daniel Coupek, Dr.-Ing. Karl-Heinz Wurst, Prof. Alexander Verl

Department of Geosciences, University of Tübingen
Dr. rer. nat. Christoph Allgaier, Prof. James Nebelsick


German Research Foundation (DFG)
Transregional Collaborative Research Centre (SFB/Transregio) 141 ‘Biological Design and Integrative Structures’