Parametric Adjustable Mould
Paul Loh, University of Melbourne
David Leggett, LLDS | Power to Make
Daniel Prohasky, Swinburne University of Technology
Parametric Adjustable Mould (PAM) is a novel fabrication machine that uses an adjustable mould frame for casting doubly-curved concrete panels. The design and fabrication of the project are undertaken by a team of researchers at the Melbourne School of Design led by Dr Paul Loh. The project aims to eliminate the wasteful practice of concrete casting in the industry. Standard industry means of casting doubly-curved concrete panels require extensive formwork often using Expanded Polystyrene Foam which is discarded after use. This generates an enormous amount of construction waste in the process of casting complex doubly curved panels; this contributes directly to the cost of the panel, making forms with complex surface geometry costly to manufacture and impractical to produce. The technology has the potential to reduce approximately 225,000 tonnes of landfill waste annually in Victoria, equivalent to the household waste created by the entire population of Ballarat. The impact of the research provides a sustainable mean of constructing complex form and geometry.
The bespoke computer numerically controlled (CNC) machine consists of a single adjustable mould which 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 project eliminates the need for individually unique mould design in the manufacturing of doubly curved panels, thereby reducing manufacturing waste and improving cost efficiency. To make a geometrically useful panel, the panel is robotically trimmed to suit the desired shape. Through smart optimisation of the design geometry and the PAM machine, the waste produce from the robotic trimming process is minimal.
This project contributes to design research through firstly aligning construction problems faced in practice with advanced fabrication technology. The novel CNC machine can make designing with complex geometry more viable and economically feasible through innovative fabrication methodology. The robotic workflow developed is novel and demonstrated research for design that moves beyond standard digital fabrication techniques and solutions. Through design research, the project indicates that research in digital technology could address problems encountered in the construction industry through a radical rethinking of our current construction techniques.
A 1:1 cladding prototype and the machine prototype is exhibited. Accompanying the artefact is a video that demonstrates the fabrication procedure of the panel using PAM technology in conjunction with the robotic trimming procedure developed by Dr Paul Loh and David Leggett of LLDS | Power to Make.
Paul Loh_ is a senior lecturer at the Melbourne School of Design. His research focuses on computational design and digital fabrication. He is also a partner of LLDS / Power to Make. www.llds.com.au
David Leggett_ is a registered architect in the UK and Victoria. He is a partner of LLDS / Power to Make, a new breed of architectural practice that integrates digital fabrication in the design of architecture. www.powertomake.com.au
Daniel Prohasky_ is a lecturer in architectural engineering at the Swinburne University of Technology
Image: Cladding prototype using PAM technology with robotic milling developed by LLDS | Power to Make.