Research database

TOMORROW - TOpology & Material Optimization using additive manufactuRing to maximize stRuctural and thermal perfOrmances of building Walls

24 months (2025)
Principal investigator(s):
Project type:
Nationally funded research - PRIN
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Project identification number:
PoliTo role:


The implementation of Industry 4.0 technologies in the construction industry arises from the desire to identify innovative fabrication techniques which are more efficient, flexible and sustainable than traditional ones. Additive manufacturing (AM) of cementitious materials, also known as 3D Concrete Printing - 3DCP, is rapidly gaining popularity worldwide for the automated fabrication of architectural components and structural elements. Frequently reported potential benefits are: reduced material use, decreased labor/improved safety, increased construction speed, customized geometries. Thus, the increasingly stringent requests in terms of energy performance of new/existing buildings, the need for high structural efficiency over the in-service-life, and the optimization of life cycle resources may represent key drivers for the development of advanced automation solutions to fabricate innovative and more sustainable construction systems. This research project aims to exploit the synergy between material and topology optimization through the use of additive manufacturing – more specifically, 3DCP technique – for the fabrication of innovative engineered building wall elements characterized by reduced raw materials’ consumption while maximizing structural and thermal performance. The key innovation consists in the advanced use of free-form characteristics and fresh material control -at the macro and micro scale, respectively- enabled by 3DCP technique which makes Topology & Material Optimization (T&MO) algorithms applicable to the design-to-fabrication of engineered building walls. Thus, advanced performance-based customization can be achieved by tailoring the design of both material and shape according to input needs and pre-defined objective functions, such as aesthetics, thermal performance, applied loads, embodied CO2-eq, raw material consumption and total costs. To this scope, a comprehensive T&MO framework will be developed in TOMORROW project by considering as the design variable the micro-macro material distribution within the wall, ensuring, at the same time, compatibility with the material feeding and trajectory capabilities of the printing machinery. Two interconnected levels of action are foreseen: i) Micro: design and control material density during printing (up to lightweight foamed concrete), yielding functionally graded materials (FGMs); ii) Macro: inner/outer topology of the walls in a thermo-mechanical constrained environment to take into account properties commonly antithetical to each other: thermal insulation, mechanical stiffness/strength, lightness, durability. The implementation of the project, demonstrated by the realization and testing of engineered wall prototypes, will contribute to reduced material consumption, increased energy efficiency and digital transformation of the sector, promoting multidisciplinary collaborations useful both for new sustainable constructions and for the retrofit of existing buildings.





ERC sectors

PE8_3 - Civil engineering, architecture, maritime/hydraulic engineering, geotechnics, waste treatment
PE8_10 - Industrial design (product design, ergonomics, man-machine interfaces, etc.)
PE8_11 - Sustainable design (for recycling, for environment, eco-design)

Sustainable Development Goals

Obiettivo 12. Garantire modelli sostenibili di produzione e di consumo


Total cost: € 300,348.00
Total contribution: € 197,358.00
PoliTo total cost: € 103,571.00
PoliTo contribution: € 66,078.00