Product development

DFAB HOUSE: Robotic slip-forming process for concrete columns

As part of the Swiss “National Centre of Competence in Research Digital Fabrication”, researchers at ETH Zurich are constructing a building in order to test innovative technologies. Zühlke is supporting the development of a slip-forming construction process.

Customer benefits

  • Zühlke optimizes the process with agile development methods.
  • Focussing on reproducible process quality ensures reliability and speed.
  • Zühlke supports the researchers with long-standing practical experience.



Zühlke helped us a great deal by rapidly finding good solutions to development problems.

– Ena Lloret-Frischti, Postdoc NCCR Digital Fabrication

Mastering a new process

Researchers from Gramazio Kohler Research (GKR) and the Institute for Building Materials (IfB) at ETH Zurich are producing curved reinforced concrete columns for the façade of the NEST Unit DFAB HOUSE as part of the National Centre of Competence in Research Digital Fabrication. Since each column is a single piece, they are to be drawn using the new dynamic slip-forming construction method, in which the concrete is moulded with a specially developed movable sleeve. The aim of this process is to simplify the casting of varying shapes. But it has its downside: The concrete does not flow through the sleeve as intended, which results in casting flaws. The researchers get Zühlke on board to optimise the process.


Agile development methods in the construction lab

Zühlke’s specialist further develops the forming unit in rapid iteration steps. This makes it possible to test the use of different materials, concepts and designs in an agile way. At the same time, Zühlke supports the researchers in specifying the requirements for the casting process.


Solution from one single source

Zühlke assists the researchers in overcoming obstacles in the process. This includes the material and properties of the movable forming unit as well as the smooth casting of the liquid concrete. As a result, the researchers can implement a process that not only helps to advance the variety of forms in concrete construction, but also reduces production costs.

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Photo: Mr Markus Föllmi

Markus Föllmi

Senior Head Competence Unit