Alex Ferrec

Hive 50 Honors

For applied materials science brilliance, creating 3D-printing solutions of molds for precast concrete façades that look like sugar crystals in the New York Harbor skyline.

What You Need To Know

3D printing’s promised impact on the built world conjures images, mostly, of a robotic nozzle squirting tubular matter in layers to form a structure. Here, 3D-printed molds for precast concrete give architects significantly more flexibility to incorporate innovative shapes into their designs, which is an opportunity to integrate energy-efficient features into buildings such as solar shades. One South First, a 42-story tower that is part of the Domino Sugar development in Brooklyn, N.Y., offered the perfect opportunity to evaluate the feasibility of this technology. Molds were printed out of carbon fiber reinforced acrylonitrile butadiene styrene and machined with a CNC router to their final shape. The new process decreased manufacturing time by at least 50% when compared with the traditionally manually assembled molds, and the 3D-printed molds can continuously produce at least 200 concrete parts while wood molds need to be refinished after they have been used 20 to 30 times.

Who’s Involved

The Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory researchers Diana E. Hun, subprogram manager for building envelopes, and Brian K. Post, associate research staff member; also, Jacksonville, Fla.–based Gate Precast.

Time Stamp

The Domino Sugar Factory redevelopment, in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, at One South First, was approved for design by COOKFOX Architects in November 2017, topped out in May 2019, and is planned for opening by Two Trees Management in fall 2019.