3-D printing shapes building industry, creates rapid construction potential

phys.org | 3/15/2019 | Staff
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A residential and commercial tower under development in Brooklyn that is changing the New York City skyline has its roots in research at the Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory. The tower's white precast concrete façade rising from the waterfront site of the former Domino Sugar Factory evokes the form of a sugar crystal – a pattern created from 3D printed molds produced at DOE's Manufacturing Demonstration Facility at ORNL.

When Gate Precast, a member of Precast/Prestressed Concrete Institute (PCI), was awarded the façade of the Domino building, ORNL researchers saw the building's tower as the perfect platform to demonstrate that Big Area Additive Manufacturing, or BAAM, technology could rapidly manufacture molds suitable for precast concrete manufacturing.

Molds - Precast - Industry - Diana - Hun

"We didn't know if 3D-printed molds could be made to work for the precast industry," said Diana Hun, lead buildings researcher on the project. "But we thought it was worthwhile to examine the potential."

Building technologies and manufacturing researchers at ORNL collaborated with Gate Precast and PCI to design and produce molds out of carbon fiber reinforced acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS), a common thermoplastic compounded with chopped carbon fibers.

ORNL - Researchers - Process - Science - Manufacture

Once ORNL researchers developed the process science to reliably manufacture 3D-printed molds, they then worked with a commercial enterprise, Additive Engineering Solutions (AES), to print additional molds. The molds were used to cast nearly a thousand precast concrete parts for the façade of the 42-story tower.

"With the Domino project, the challenge was to find the right solution for a job that required durable molds that could be used numerous times," Hun said. "We proved that each 3D printed mold could cast at least 200 concrete parts, which was key to meeting the project's...
(Excerpt) Read more at: phys.org
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