Instruments and materials for digital manufacturing in architecture

  • Cesare Sposito University of Palermo
  • Francesca Scalisi University of Palermo
Keywords: digital production, 3D printing, mass customization, innovative materials


The article describes tools and materials available today for digital manufacturing in architecture, offering a wide overview of 3D printing techniques and how it could revolutionize the construction world with important come backs and not only technical ones. From the concept of mass customization to the creation of the Fab Lab, from Contour Crafting to D-Shape technology and to the WASP project, we are witnessing a radical rethinking of the architectural process, but also a continuous research on the materials.

Author Biographies

Cesare Sposito, University of Palermo

Associate Professor at the Department of Architecture, Polytechnic School, he teaches Architecture Construction Studio. He carries out research on protection systems for archaeological sites, innovative materials for architecture, nanotechnology in architecture, energy savings for buildings.

Francesca Scalisi, University of Palermo

PhD in Recovery and Use of Ancient Contexts, she was holder of a research grant at the Department of Desing and Building Construction (DPCE) with a thesis entitled "Experiments on nanostructured materials in the archaeological sites of Agrigento, Morgantina and in the Villa Romana del Casale".


Anderson, C. (2010), “In the next industrial revolution, Atoms are the new bits”, in Wired Magazine. [Online] Available at: [Accessed 7 October 2015].

Anderson, C. (2013), Il ritorno dei produttori – Per una nuova rivoluzione industriale, Rizzoli Etas, Milano.

Bosscher, P. et alii (2007), “Cable-suspended robotic contour crafting system”, in Automation in Construction, vol. 17, pp. 45-55.

Campbell, T. A., Tibbits, S. and Garrett, B. (2014), The next wave: 4D printing programming the material world, Atlantic Council, Washington, DC. [Online] Available at: [Accessed 22 April 2017].

ColorFabb (2016), Specials. [Online] Available at: [Accessed 30 april 2017].

Davis, S. (1987), Future perfect, Addison Wesley Reading, Massachusetts.

De Giovanni, G. (1992), “Gli operatori nell’architettura antica”, in Sposito, A. (ed.), Elogio della Tecnologia, Alloro Editrice, Palermo, pp. 73-135.

Diez, T. (2012), “Personal fabrication: Fab labs as platforms for citizen-based innovation – from microcontrollers to cities”, in Nexus Netw Journal, vol. 14, issue 3, pp. 457-468.

Dini, E. (2010), What is D-shape. [Online] Available at: [Accessed 6 June 2014].

FabFoundation (2014), What is a fab lab? [Online] Available at: [Accessed 13 September 2015].

Fischer, M., Bazjanac, V. and Mrazovic, N. (2013), Framework for bringing 3D printing into the construction industry, Center for Integrated Facility Engineering, CIFE, Stanford University.

Gershenfeld, N. (2005), Fab: The coming revolution on your desktop – from personal computers to personal fabrication, Basic Books, New York.

Gershenfeld, N. (2012), “How to make almost anything. The digital fabrication revolution”, in Foreign affairs, vol. 91, n. 6, pp. 43-57. [Online] Available at: [Accessed 15 march 2016].

Gramazio, F., Kohler, M. and Willmann, J. (2014), The Robotic touch: How robots change architecture, Park Books, Zurich.

Hager, I., Golonka, A. and Putanowicz, R. (2016), “3D printing of buildings and building components as the future of sustainable construction?”, in Drdlová, M., Kubátová, D. and Boháč, M. (eds), Ecology and new Building materials and products – Procedia Engineering, vol. 151, Elsevier, Amsterdam, pp. 292-299.

Hauschild, M. and Karzel, R. (2011), Digital Processes (Detail Practice), Birkhäuser GmbH, Basel.

Hull, C. W. (1986), Apparatus for production of three-dimensional objects by stereolithography, Patent US4575330A.

Katz, R. (2002), “An interview with Neil Gershenfeld”, in Educause Review, march/april, pp. 34-38. [Online] Document available at: [Accessed 03 July 2016].

Khoshnevis, B. (2012), Contour crafting: Automated construction. [Online] Available at: [Accessed 03 April 2017].

Khoshnevis, B. (2004), “Automated construction by contour crafting – related robotics and information technologies”, in Automation in Construction, vol. 13, special issue: The best of ISARC 2002, pp. 5-19.

Kolarevic, B. (2003), Architecture in the digital age: Design and manufacturing, Spoon Press, New York.

Kreiger, M. A. et alii (2015), “The current state of 3D printing for use in construction”, in White, D. J., Alhasan, A. and Vennapusa, P. (eds), The Proceedings of the 2015 Conference on Autonomous and Robotic Construction of Infrastructure, Trans Project Reports, paper 141, pp. 149-158. [Online] Available at: [Accessed 10 April 2017].

Naboni, R. and Paoletti, I. (2015), Advanced Customization in Architectural Design and Construction, Springer, Heidelberg.

Nardi, G. (2003), Percorsi di un pensiero progettuale, CLUP, Milano.

Parvin, A. (2013), The DIY house of the future: Alastair Parvin at TED2013. [Online] Available at: [Accessed 25 November 2015].

Peng, W., Wang, J. and Wang, X. (2016), “A critical review of the use of 3-D printing in the construction industry”, in Automation in Construction, vol. 68, pp. 21-31.

Pine, J. (1992), Mass customization – The new frontier in business competition, Harvard Business Review Press, Boston.

Rifkin, J. (2011), The third industrial revolution – How lateral power is transforming energy, the economy, and the world, Palgrave MacMillan, New York.

Rifkin, J. (2014), La società a costo marginale zero – L’Internet delle cose, l’ascesa del Commons Collaborativo e l’eclissi del capitalismo, Mondadori, Milano.

Rouhana, C. M. et alii (2014), “The reduction of construction duration by implementing contour crafting”, in Proceedings for the 22nd Annual Conference of the International Group for Lean Construction, IGLC & Akademika forlag, Oslo, pp. 1031-1042.

Sargent, J. F. (2014), The Obama administration’s proposal to establish a national network for manufacturing innovation, Congressional Research Service report. [Online] Available at: [Accessed 12 June 2015].

Scalisi, F. (2010), Nanotecnologie in edilizia. Innovazione, tecnologica e nuovi materiali per le costruzioni, Maggioli, Sant’Arcangelo di Romagna (RM).

Schumacker, P. (2008), Parametricism as Style, XI Biennale di Architettura di Venezia.

Troxler, P. (2013), “Making the 3rd industrial revolution”, in Walter-Herrmann, J. and Büching, C. (eds), FabLabs: Of Machines, Makers and Inventors, Transcript Publishers, Bielefeld.

Yossef, M. and Chen, A. (2015), “Applicability and limitations of 3D printing for civil structures”, in White, D. J., Alhasan, A. and Vennapusa, P. (eds), The Proceedings of the 2015 Conference on Autonomous and Robotic Construction of Infrastructure, Trans Project Reports, paper 141, pp. 237–246. [Online] Available at: [Accessed 10 April 2017].

Zelinski, P. (2014), Add-on additive manufacturing –. The capacity to build 3D metal forms is a retrofittable option for subtractive CNC machine tools. [Online] Available at: [Accessed 20 September 2015].

Zhang, J. (2013), “Optimal machine operation planning for construction by Contour Crafting”, in Automation in Construction, vol. 29, pp. 50-67.

How to Cite
Sposito, C. and Scalisi, F. (2017) “Instruments and materials for digital manufacturing in architecture”, AGATHÓN | International Journal of Architecture, Art and Design, 1(online), pp. 143-151. doi: 10.19229/2464-9309/1222017.
Architecture | Research & Experimentation
Share |