ArchitectureCase Studies

How 3D printing enabled the construction of Galleria Gwanggyo

The shopping center in South Korea was built leveraging voxeljet's VX800 and VX2000 printers

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The Galleria Gwanggyo, a modern shopping center in Gwanggyon, South Korea, stands as a testament to the advanced application of 3D printing in architectural design and construction. Spearheaded by a Dutch architectural firm, this project is characterized by its intricate facade, combining mosaic stone and complex glass elements, held together by uniquely designed joint nodes. Each node in this facade presented a unique geometrical challenge, necessitating a bespoke approach to their fabrication.

Galleria Gwanggyo, the shopping in Gwanggyon, South Korea, was built leveraging voxeljet's VX800 and VX2000 3D printers.

Addressing this complexity, WITHWORKS, a Korean architectural firm, adopted 3D printing technology, specifically leveraging voxeljet’s capabilities. This collaboration involved KTC, a South Korean entity skilled in sand mold and investment casting model production. KTC utilized voxeljet’s VX800 and VX2000 printers, which are adept at producing large-format PMMA (Polymethyl Methacrylate) models for investment casting.

The process entailed 3D printing around 230 distinct models for the nodes, which were then subject to the investment casting process. In this process, the PMMA models were first coated in a refractory ceramic material. Following the coating, these models underwent a burnout phase in an autoclave and furnace, where the PMMA models were eliminated, leaving behind a ceramic mold. This mold was then used for casting the nodes in structural steel, ensuring precision and integrity in the final metal components.

The decision to use 3D printing brought several advantages, paramount among them being significant cost reductions and expedited production timelines compared to traditional toolmaking methods. The surface quality of the steel components produced through this method was notably superior. Moreover, the approach allowed for a high degree of design flexibility and precision, critical in the complex geometrical requirements of the facade’s nodes.

Galleria Gwanggyo, the shopping in Gwanggyon, South Korea, was built leveraging voxeljet's VX800 and VX2000 3D printers.

The project also employed advanced CAD and casting simulation software to preemptively ensure the feasibility and quality of both the 3D printing and casting processes, thereby minimizing the waste rate and obviating the need for re-productions. This proactive approach was instrumental in adhering to the project’s stringent schedule.

The integration of 3D printing in the construction of Galleria Gwanggyo not only highlights the technological advancements in architectural fabrication but also showcases the potential of additive manufacturing in achieving intricate, customized design elements rapidly and efficiently. The successful completion of the facade’s nodes within four months underlines the transformative impact of 3D printing in modern architectural practices.

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Edward Wakefield

Edward is a freelance writer and additive manufacturing enthusiast looking to make AM more accessible and understandable.

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