Printing concrete forms may have been held back due to the framework involved. However, a group of scientists have developed a wire mesh frame that can be shaped according to the design, is lower cost, has less waste, and is built by a robot. This new method will be used in Switzerland on a project next year.

Swiss researchers working at the “Swiss MIT” have created a new technique for concrete construction using robotics and metal mesh. Using a robot arm to mold metal into a grid like mesh the Swiss team hope to provide a successful alternative to traditional construction processes. Zurich based group Gramazio Kohler Research began researching the mesh mold technique in 2012. Research is based at ETH Zurich and it last year (2015) Gramazio Kohler started looking at using metal. Work initially began with creating the molds out of plastic. The research is part of the National Center of Competence in Research (NCCR) Digital Fabrication.

In conventional concrete construction, pictured below, external formwork is required to contain the concrete while it sets in its required shape. Also, metal rods are required inside the poured concrete in order to provide reinforcement. Mesh Mould aims to eradicate the need for external formwork while still providing concrete reinforcement. Furthermore, this technique will enable complex structures to be built out of concrete without the need to create made-to-measure formwork, or complex metal reinforcement rods. This approach may lead to less waste since tailor made formwork cannot be used more than once.

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