Skip to main content

Robotic concrete surface finishing: a moldless approach to creating thermally tuned surface geometry for architectural building components using Profile-3D-Printing

Abstract

This paper focuses on describing a novel hybrid concrete printing/casting process we term Profile-3D-Printing. Profile-3D-Printing is an additive/subtractive manufacturing process that combines deposition of concrete for rough layup with precision tooling for surface finishing of architectural building components commonly found in the architectural precast industry. Our research team from Architecture, the Robotics Institute, and Material Science invented this novel hybrid manufacturing process for robotically printing architectural facade panels with complex surface geometries. This effort was motivated by previously validated research focused on calibrating the thermal exchange rate of vertical surface geometries for the purpose of improving both the esthetic and thermodynamic performance of passive heating and cooling systems in buildings. Our hybrid approach to concrete 3D printing is unique because it combines high-volume material deposition, multi-resolution surface finishing, and the ability for high customization without significant increases in production time. Our project will significantly advance systems integration between energy-based building performance design and advance additive manufacturing, enabling precast concrete suppliers to design and manufacture innovative architectural products with added value for end users in energy savings. This project serves as a template for other industries to adopt hybrid additive manufacturing systems to transform traditionally mold-based approaches. The goal of our project is to develop and test robotic 3D-printing systems that enable customization for high-resolution parts. Hybrid additive manufacturing (Hybrid-AM) enables automated tooling of soft and phase-changing materials to achieve fine feature resolution and finish quality independent of print nozzle size. Currently, speed of printing, control of finish quality, and flexibility of application are three of the most significant barriers for industries seeking to adopt additive manufacturing for part production. This project highlights how Hybrid-AM techniques, built on robotic work cells, address these challenges to enable customization of value-added products.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

Fig. 1
Fig. 2
Fig. 3
Fig. 4
Fig. 5
Fig. 6
Fig. 7
Fig. 8
Fig. 9
Fig. 10
Fig. 11
Fig. 12

References

  1. ACI Committee, American Concrete Institute, and International Organization for Standardization (1988) Guide for Concrete Floor and Slab Construction (ACI 302.1R-20) and commentary. American Concrete Institute

  2. Bard J, Mankouche S, Schulte M (2013) Morphfaux. Rob|Arch 2012. Springer, Vienna. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-7091-1465-0_13

    Book  Google Scholar 

  3. Cupkova D, Azel N (2015) Mass regimes: geometric actuation of thermal behavior. Int J Archit Comput 13(2):169–193. https://doi.org/10.1260/1478-0771.13.2.169 (Editor: Dr. David Jason Gerber, Multi-Science Publishing Company)

    Article  Google Scholar 

  4. Cupkova D, Promoppatum P (2017) Modulating thermal mass behavior through surface figuration. ACADIA 2017 disciplines and disruptions: 37th annual conference proceedings of the Association of Computer Aided Design in Architecture, MIT, Boston, MA, pp 202–211

  5. Cupkova D, Yao S, Azel N (2015) Morphologically controlled thermal rate of ultra high performance concrete. In: Sabin JE, PazGutierrez M, Santangelo C (eds) MRS proceedings 1800, adaptive architecture and programmable matter—next generation building skins and systems from nano to macro. Cambridge Journals Online. https://doi.org/10.1557/opl.2015.569

  6. Hack N, Lauer W, Hack N (2014) Mesh-mould: robotically fabricated spatial meshes as reinforced concrete formwork. Archit Des 84(3):44–53

    Google Scholar 

  7. Holman JP (2010) Heat transfer. McGraw-hill, New York

    Google Scholar 

  8. Khoshnevis Behrokh (2004) Automated construction by contour crafting—related robotics and information technologies. Autom Constr 13:5–19. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.autcon.2003.08.012

    Article  Google Scholar 

  9. Le TT, Austin SA, Lim S, Buswell RA, Gibb AGF, Thorpe A (2011) High-performance printing concrete for freeform building components. In: Fib Symposium Prague 2011, concrete engineering for excellence and efficiency, 8–10 Jun 2011, Prague, Czech Republic

  10. Leemann A, Winnefeld F (2007) The effect of viscosity modifying agents on mortar and concrete. Cement Concr Compos 29(5):341–349

    Article  Google Scholar 

  11. Lim S, Buswell RA, Le TT, Austin SA, Gibb AGF, Thorpe T (2012) Developments in construction-scale additive manufacturing processes. Autom Constr 21(1):262–268. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.autcon.2011.06.010

    Article  Google Scholar 

  12. Marar K, Eren Ö (2011) Effect of cement content and water/cement ratio on fresh concrete properties without admixtures. Int J Phys Sci 6(24):5752–5765

    Google Scholar 

  13. Marchon D, Juilland P, Gallucci E, Frunz L, Flatt RJ (2017) Molecular and submolecular scale effects of comb-copolymers on tri-calcium silicate reactivity: toward molecular design. J Am Ceram Soc 100(3):817–841

    Article  Google Scholar 

  14. Mehta P, Monteiro PJ (2006) Concrete: microstructure, properties and materials. Mc-Graw Hill, New York

    Google Scholar 

  15. Soar R, Andreen D (2012) The role of additive manufacturing and physiomimetic computational design for digital construction. Archit Des 82(2):126–135. https://doi.org/10.1002/ad.1389

    Article  Google Scholar 

  16. Spahr R, Johnston D (2014) The New “Guide to Formed Concrete Surfaces”. Concr Int 36(6):30–32

    Google Scholar 

  17. Wangler T, Lloret E, Reiter L, Hack N, Gramazio F, Kohler M, Bernhard M et al (2016) Digital concrete: opportunities and challenges. RILEM Tech Lett 1:67. https://doi.org/10.21809/rilemtechlett.2016.16

    Article  Google Scholar 

  18. Yamada K, Ogawa S, Hanehara S (2001) Controlling of the adsorption and dispersing force of polycarboxylate-type superplasticizer by sulfate ion concentration in aqueous phase. Cem Concr Res 31(3):375–383

    Article  Google Scholar 

  19. Yao L-S (2006) Natural convection along a vertical complex wavy surface. Int J Heat Mass Transf 49:281–286

    Article  Google Scholar 

  20. Zhang GQ, Mondesir W, Martinez C, Li X, Fuhlbrigge TA, Bheda H (2015) Robotic additive manufacturing along curved surface—a step towards free-form fabrication. In: Robotics and biomimetics (ROBIO), 2015 IEEE international conference, IEEE, pp 721–726

Download references

Acknowledgements

The authors acknowledge Carnegie Mellon University Manufacturing Futures Initiative TAKTL.

Author information

Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Joshua Bard.

Additional information

Publisher's Note

Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Bard, J., Cupkova, D., Washburn, N. et al. Robotic concrete surface finishing: a moldless approach to creating thermally tuned surface geometry for architectural building components using Profile-3D-Printing. Constr Robot 2, 53–65 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1007/s41693-018-0014-x

Download citation

Keywords

  • Additive manufacturing
  • High-performance design
  • Digital concrete
  • Thermal performance
  • Robotic fabrication