Combining 3D printing and CNC milling for complex building structures

Video credit: Institut für Baukonstruktion – TU Dresden, Daniel Pfarr, Felix Hegewald

TU Dresden, Institute of Building Construction

The Institute for Building Construction at the TU Dresden performs research in the domain of glass and façade construction. Focal areas are energy efficiency, structural glass design and the adhesive joining of common façade building materials.

The challenge

“Within the framework of future-oriented research work, we develop new ideas and constructions for use in modern façade systems. This has shown great potential in the use of additive manufacturing processes for the production of resource-saving, load bearing and safe structures”, states Daniel Pfarr, research associate at the Institute of Building Construction at the TU Dresden. In order to achieve standard construction formats, the additive manufacturing process had to be scaled up. In addition, modern architecture is characterised by flexibility and individuality. However, this desire for geometric freedom creates challenges for traditional manufacturing processes.

The AM Flexbot Solution

For this reason, CEAD’s AM Flexbot with milling option provided the perfect solution to scale up their additive manufacturing process and to establish freedom in design. “In addition to the additive manufacturing of a variety of thermoplastics, the subtractive machining by CNC milling offers completely new possibilities on a total area of 4 x 2 metres.” says Pfarr. With the AM Flexbot, components could be produced in close-to-reality formats.

Click to see how the AM Flexbot was installed in at TU Dresden.


The AM Flexbot is currently in use to answer several research questions. Their research work includes structural design considerations as well as experimental material and component testing methods. “One of our research focuses is the efficient use of the energy-intensive material glass. The structural bonding of additively manufactured structures and thin glass is intended to create light and stiff composite elements for use in future façades.” explains Pfarr. “Furthermore, Formwork and casting moulds for the production of complex building structures are considered.”

View the AM Flexbot at TU Dresden’s facility

The video below shows the AM Flexbot in use at the TU Dresden. Daniel Pfarr explains their application of this large format additive manufacturing solution. During Formnext 2022, Daniel gave a presentation about robotic LFAM for thin glass composite elements.



CEAD Solution





“The overall package provided by CEAD gives us full flexibility as a research institution. Besides size, flexibility and reliability were the main reasons for choosing CEAD’s AM Flexbot system. In addition to the performance of the hardware, the individual and uncomplicated customer support is particularly helpful to reach our research goals.” according to Pfarr.