Since 2015, Gramazio Kohler Research has been in the process of developing "Mesh Mould Metal," a project that studies the unification of concrete reinforcement and formwork into a single, robotically fabricated material system. The project is based on their first phase of research, Mesh Mould, which spanned from 2012 to 2014, and developed a robotic extrusion process for a polymer mesh.
Now, as a second phase, Mesh Mould Metal “focuses on the translation of the structurally weak polymer-based extrusion process into a fully load-bearing construction system” by replicating the process in metal. Specifically, the current research delves into the development of "a fully automated bending and welding process for meshes fabricated from 3-millimeter steel wire."
According to Gramazio Kohler, central to the original research for Mesh Mould was the fact that standard robotic extrusion processes have a low loadbearing capacity, but a "high capacity for precise spatial coordination." Therefore, "an optimal use of the machine requires construction processes with minimal mass transfer and a high degree of geometric definition," they explain.
For the switch to a stronger metal mesh with real-world structural applications, Gramazio Kohler abandoned the standard extrusion machine used for the first stage of the research. Instead, alongside the Agile & Dexterous Robotics Lab of Professor Jonas Buchli, they developed a specialized robot capable of automatically bending and welding the metal.
Learn more about the Mesh Mould Metal project here.
| Credits: Gramazio Kohler Research, ETH Zurich
Research programme: NCCR Digital Fabrication
Collaborators: Norman Hack (project lead), Dr. Nitish Kumar, Kathrin Dörfler, Alexander Nikolas Walzer, Dr. Jaime Mata Falcon, Michael Lyrenmann, Lex Reiter, Dr. Tim Wangler, Philippe Fleischmann, Andreas Reusser
Selected experts: Agile & Dexterous Robotics Lab (Prof. Dr. Jonas Buchli), Institute of Robotics and Intelligent Systems, ETH Zurich
Physical Chemistry of Building Materials group: (Prof. Dr. Robert J. Flatt),
Institute for Building Materials, ETH Zurich
Concrete Structures and Bridge Design: (Prof. Dr. Walter Kaufmann)
Institute for Structural Engineering, ETH Zurich
Industry partner: Sika Technology AG, Switzerland
The project is developed within the NCCR Digital Fabrication, funded by the Swiss National Science Foundation.
News via Gramazio Kohler Research.