Parametric Adjustable Mould (PAM)
PAM is a computer numerically controlled (CNC) mould frame design which produces double curvature concrete panels.
The research team at Melbourne School of Design, led by Paul Loh, has combined architecture, design 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 system 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 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 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.
PAM can be used to fabricate large format, structural and non-structural doubly curved concrete panels, with applications such as rain screen cladding systems, permanent concrete shutter and interior panelling. The impact of the technology provides a sustainable and feasible means of constructing complex form and geometry in architectural design. This project highlights the need for future research into digital fabrication and design that is less wasteful and waste conscious to improve the process of constructing our built environment.
The research is led by Paul Loh (University of Melbourne) in collaboration with David Leggett and Daniel Prohasky. The team are currently exploring commercialisation pathways; supported by Translating Research at Melbourne (TraM).