Mesh mold prefabrication at ETH Zurich/Switzerland

Mesh mold prefabrication is an innovative patented technology that combines formwork and structural reinforcement into one robotically fabricated construction system. Thanks to the fruitful collaboration between Gramazio Kohler Research and the Chair for Concrete Structures and Bridge Design, both at ETH Zurich as well as the industrial partners Peri GmbH and Sika AG, this novel method allows for the industrial and full-scale realization of complex curved, steel-reinforced concrete structures without the need for any conventional formwork. It is based on previous extensive research conducted at ETH Zurich and has counted with the support of the National Competence Centre in Research (NCCR) Digital Fabrication.

Mesh mold prefabrication involves the rapid as well as material and cost efficient industrial prefabrication of 3D mesh structures which act as both formwork and structural reinforcement. The team developed a new, robotic wire application process, making it possible to fabricate mesh molds with continuous reinforcement in both directions. This automated bending and welding process enables the fabrication and layering of doubly curved meshes from steel rebar of up to 12 mm diameter. Thanks to the implementation of an innovative and automated structural design approach, complex Mesh Mould structures can be dimensioned and optimized following international standards for reinforced concrete structures in a very efficient manner.

The process includes the development of a competitive and efficient formworkless concrete mixture and filling method. The concrete is modified prior to processing using Sika admixtures, which make it still pumpable, but solid enough to not flow out from the meshes, as it were the case with conventional concrete. The prefabricated Mesh Moulds can be assembled on site, then filled and finished with standard concrete processing and construction equipment.

Mesh Mould Prefabrication is a project made possible resp. supported by ETH Zurich (Gramazio Kohler Research, Concrete Structures and Bridge Design, Institute of Technology in Architecture), Peri GmbH, Sika AG, Department of Architecture (ETH Zurich), Department of Civil, Environmental and Geomatic Engineering (ETH Zurich), Institute for Structural Engineering (ETH Zurich), NCCR Digital Fabrication, MEP SpA, Schunk Intec AG, ABB Schweiz AG and Matrics Engineering GmbH.

Gramazio Kohler Research
Chair of Architecture and Digital Fabrication
ETH Zurich / Building HIB / Floor E / Room 43
Stefano-Franscini-Platz 1
8093 Zurich/Switzerland

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