Aectual 3D printing a floor for Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport

3D Printing Industry asked Dutch company Aectual a few questions about how they plan to 3D print a floor for Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport in November.

The 3D printing technology was developed in-house by Aectual and will be used to 3D print the DUS Architects design at the airport.

Described as an ‘on demand floor’ the method is based on a FDM/FFF 3D printer. However, instead of filament a hopper feeds pelletized material to the nozzle, where it can be extruded into the desired shape.

3D printed Aectual Floors. Photo via Ivo Toplak (DUS architects).

Bio based 3D printing material

“We use a self developed pellet extrusion XL 3D print technique” explained Hedwig Heinsman Co-founder & Chief Creative Officer of Aectual, “Our material is a bio based print material based on linseed developed in collaboration with Henkel.”

3D printing is used to create the initial frame of the design, then in a secondary process the gaps are filled with a material called terrazzo. Terrazzo, Italian for terrace, is a composite material made from chips of marble, quartz, granite and glass. Once mixed with a binder and cured the terrazzo can be polished to give a smooth surface.

The extruder is mounted on a robot arm, itself mounted on a track. The maximum print areas of the several printers available are 2x2x4 meters, 8x2x2m or 2x2x2m. The 3D printer can deposit between 1 – 15 kg/hr of material. Using an automated material feeding system, the printer can run 24 hours a day, 7 days a week says the company.

“We make it possible to create your own design for spectacular floors in, for example, a hotel lobby, or for a striking retail brand,” says Hans Vermeulen, CEO of Aectual. “This gives designers complete design freedom”.

3D printed Aectual Floors. Photo via Ivo Toplak (DUS architects).
3D printed Aectual Floors. Photo via Ivo Toplak (DUS architects).

The influence of digital technology on design

After launching in Tokyo at the Loft Flagship store, clients now include international museums, hotels and department stores. During Dutch Design Week Aectual will present digital production process, and a selection of floor patterns, including the design for the Schiphol floor by architecture firm DUS.

The official launch takes place at Dutch Design Week. On, October 29, Aectual will host a‘’Democratizing Design Debate’ with architects and designers from DDW, including Winy Maas [MVRDV], Jelle Feringa [Aectual, former Odico] and Borre Akkersdijk [ByBorre], speaking about the influence of digital technology on design.

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Featured image shows the Aectual XL 3D Printing Robot. Photo via Aectual.