Structural modelling, construction and test of the first 3d-printed gridshell in ice composite

Arno D.C. Pronk, Qingpeng Li (Corresponding author), Elke Mergny

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)
122 Downloads (Pure)


In the past, record breaking large shell structures with ice composites were successfully realized by spraying cellulose-water mixture on an inflatable mould. This paper presents the application of a new, production technique for ice composites by extrusion instead of spraying. With this additive manufacturing technique, the world’s first gridshell in fibre-reinforced ice was designed, constructed, and tested. To increase the stiffness of the gridshell the floorplan of the inflatable mould was designed with an anti-clastic curvature at the supports of the structure. Concerning the pattern of the grid different options were developed and compared and verified in ABAQUS®. The size of the struts were determined by an iterative process. The gridshell was realized in a cold environment by printing multiple layers of cellulose-water mixture on the inflatable mould using piping bags. After the substance has been extruded, the mixture froze at temperatures of minus eight degrees Celsius or lower. The realized structure was tested on-site with a dead load to prove its strength.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)177-186
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of the International Association for Shell and Spatial Structures
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sep 2020


  • 3D printing
  • Gridshell
  • Ice composite
  • Inflatable mould
  • Loading test
  • Structural modelling


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