Reinforced concrete structures are currently shaped by the formwork system that surrounds the reinforcements. However, these formwork panels wear very quickly, and, when it comes to special designs, may not be used more than once. This makes little sense, and not just because of the high costs involved - there are also sound environmental reasons for wanting an alternative technology. Researchers at ETH Zurich in the NCCR Digital Fabrication center of competence have recognized the potential that digital technologies offer in relation to the efficient and sustainable manufacture of reinforced concrete structures and are now at HANNOVER MESSE 2017 to demonstrate the "mesh mold" construction technology developed from their research.
Thanks to innovative "mesh mold" technology, reinforced concrete structures can now, for the first time, be produced in any shape without separate formwork. First, a computer is used to design a steel wire mesh model, which is then manufactured with exceptional precision using a robot before being filled with concrete. The reinforcing mesh is so fine that it completely absorbs the concrete, allowing none of it to escape. Combining the two functions of formwork and reinforcement generates significant savings in materials and production costs. This method could be used to develop complex and even unique concrete structures and thus represents a key step toward a sustainable digital approach to construction.