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3D Printed Structure Made from 7km Long Strip of PLA Plastic

Published on 2017-04-10. Author : SpecialChem

Thallus Structure
Thallus Structure
Zaha Hadid Architects has recently unveiled a small 3D printed experimental structure at this year's Milan Design Week.

Thallus – The 3D Printed Exhibit

Named after the Greek word for flora that has no differentiation between stem and leaf, Thallus is an experimental structure investigating form and pattern generated by advanced manufacturing and computational methods.

Created by automated additive manufacture as well as hot-wire cutting technology, the structure presents the on-going investigations into robotic assisted design undertaken by Zaha Hadid Architects’ Computational Design (ZHA CoDe) research group; demonstrating what can now be achieved in terms of mechanization and customization in the architecture, construction and engineering industries.


  • Six-axis robotic 3D printing technology created the 7km extruded structural strip of PLA (Premium Polylactide Plastic) as a continuous line that repeatedly loops to connect with itself on a ruled surface. 
  • Ruled surfaces are a class of surfaces generated by the movement of a straight line in space around an axis, and have been applied in the fabrication process of the piece. 
  • Its shape is tailored to a trimmed cylinder that enables hot-wire cutting process to create the mold of the base on which the continuous structural strip has been robotically 3D printed.

Thallus continues ZHA CoDe’s research into generating geometries through computation. The design explores differential growth methods through expansion and diffusion arising from a single continuous seed curve guided iteratively via simulation parameters while constrained to a reference surface.

Density gradation and direction of growth have been defined by parameters such as proximity to boundaries, angled direction of rulings, as well as structural requirements.

About Zaha Hadid Architects

Zaha Hadid Architects work at all scales and in all sectors. It creates transformative cultural, corporate, residential and other spaces that work in synchronicity with its surroundings.

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Source: Zaha Hadid Architects
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