Polycasting: Multi-material 3D Printing for Reinforced Concrete

Jun 27, 2021

This research focuses on the following questions: Can water-soluble formworks provide an alternative to, or augmentation of, traditional concrete fabrication by allowing for variable density forms with greater geometric flexibility (e.g. undercuts and non-planar openings)? Can dual-extrusion additive manufacturing improve the performance and economy of these non-standard geometries through 3D printed embedded tensile reinforcement?

A series of desktop-scale material studies determined that PVA filament is a suitable material for 3D printing biodegradable concrete molds. Prototype columns verified that the process could be scaled-up for architectural applications, so long as adjustments were made to account for the additional weight and pressures of the concrete upon the PVA shell. The formworks successfully produced voids and other non-standard geometric features in the concrete. While it appears possible to 3D print embedded reinforcement simultaneously with PVA molds, this aspect of the research remains incomplete.

Shelby Elizabeth Doyle, AIA, LEED AP (Iowa State University)
Nick Senske (Iowa State University)
Published & professionally reviewed by: 
The American Institute of Architects (AIA)

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