Parametric Adjustable Mould

Can robotic concrete fabrication reduce waste in construction?

PAM is a patented computer numerically controlled (CNC) mould frame designed to produce double curvature concrete panels with a single mould frame.

Parametric Adjustable Mould. Prototype fabrication and assembly by ARL. Film edited by Dr Paul Loh.

The research led by Dr Paul Loh combined architecture, robotics and advance fabrication knowledge to invent a new fabrication method for casting doubly-curved concrete panels. The research eliminates the need for wasteful mould design in the manufacturing of panelised systems whereby a single adjustable mould can produce variable shapes using a custom computer numeric controlled technology.

Standard industry means of casting doubly-curved concrete panels requires extensive formwork often using Expanded Polystyrene Foam which is generally discarded after use. This generates an enormous amount of construction waste in the process of casting complex doubly curved panels; it also contributes directly to the cost of the panel, making forms with complex surface geometry costly to manufacture and impractical to produce.

The bespoke CNC machine called: Parametric Adjustable Mould (PAM) consists of a single adjustable mould that receives translated digital information from a panelised surface using a custom script to actuate the mould into desired positions for concrete casting. The translated data of the virtual surface is made possible through the transformation of the doubly curved ruled surface geometry. Once cured, the concrete panel is removed from the mould with no immediate waste. The edges of the panel are robotically milled so panels can be fitted together to create a smooth surface. The project eliminates the need for individually unique mould design in the manufacturing of doubly curved panels, thereby reducing manufacturing waste and improving cost efficiency. Knowledge gained in the development of this research can be applied to other moulding processes to develop fabrication methods in dealing with complex geometry.

The technology is patented by the University of Melbourne (Patent Identifier No.WO2019148242: A Variable Shaping Form, 2019) and is on its course to be commercialised by a new start-up company: Curvecrete developed out of the Translating Research at Melbourne: TRAM program led by Dr Paul Loh. The technology has been shortlisted for  Victorian Design Challenge 2019 and won the VESKI Fast Smarts Innovator of the Year, 2019.

Outputs:

Patents:

Loh, P., Leggett, D. & Prohasky, D. (2019). A Variable Shaping Form.

Publications:

Loh, P., Leggett, D. & Prohasky, D. (2019). Robotic fabrication of doubly curved fa├žade system: constructing intelligence in the digital fabrication workflow. Intelligent and Informed - Proceedings of the 24th International Conference on Computer-Aided Architectural Design Research in Asia, CAADRIA 2019, Wellington, New Zealand, 2 pp. 521-530.

Loh, P., Leggett, D. & Prohasky, D. (2018). PAM: Parametric Adjustable Mould. Sydney, pp. 723-733.

Loh, P., Leggett, D. & Prohasky, D. (2018). CNC Adjustable Mould to Eliminate Waste in Concrete Casting. Lodz, Poland, pp. 749-756.

Original Creative Work:

Loh, P. & Leggett, D. (2020). Parametric Adjustable Mould.

Project Contact:

Dr Paul Loh (CI), Senior Lecturer in Digital Architecture Design (Inventor)
Daniel Prohasky, Research Assistant (Inventor)
Ryan Huang, Research Assistant

Project Partners:

David Leggett, ARL + Power to Make (Inventor)
Yuhan Hou, Research Assistant, Power to Make

Collaborators:

Dr Alberto Pugnale,  Senior Lecturer in Architectural Design
Dr Alessandro Liuti, ARUP Melbourne
Gabriele Mirra,  Research Assistant

Rainscreen Prototype by ARL + UoM
Robotic milling by ARL and Dr Paul Loh