Mesh mould metal
Since 2015, the Zurich-based research group Gramazio Kohler Research has been developing ‘mesh mould metal’. This is a project studying the unification of concrete reinforcement and formwork into a single, robotically-fabricated material system.
The first (2012-14) phase of research, ‘Mesh mould’, addressed the 1:1 construction aspects of robotically-fabricated load-bearing structures, and a robotic extrusion process for a polymer mesh.
The second phase, ‘Mesh mould metal’, has focused on the transition of the structurally-weak polymer-based extrusion process into a fully load-bearing construction system, by replicating the process in metal.
The research involves the development of ‘a fully automated bending and welding process for meshes fabricated from 3 mm steel wire.’
Standard industrial robots have limited payload capacities yet have a high capacity for precise spatial coordination. Therefore, their optimal use requires construction processes with minimal mass transfer and a high degree of geometric definition. Subsequently, the focus of the investigation was fabrication with material efficiency in mind, with geometrically complex concrete elements.
The project was conducted in collaboration with Sika Technology AG. Mesh Mould is also embedded into the National Competence Centre in Research (NCCR) Digital Fabrication, and funded by the Swiss National Science Foundation.
Images copyright Gramazio Kohler Research, ETH Zurich.
Content and images courtesy of GKR. For more information, see GKR.
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