3D Printed Clay: Form-Work for Pre-Fabrication of Concrete Vault Structures

Related Staff : Christian Lange

Student: Lai Chu Tung Jetson

This thesis set out to explore the possibility of concrete prefabrication by the use of clay form-work. The focus of this study was on robotic fabrication, material studies, and prototyping.

Through the use of a robotic arm, clay was 3D printed via a direct ink extrusion method to provide a form-work for the prefabrication of concrete vault structures. This method of making introduces new and unique aesthetics to concrete structures and finishes, which also allows for enhancing structural efficiency. Unlike traditional concrete form-work, the clay form-work allows for relatively straight forward construction of complex surface geometry. It is recyclable upon de-molding the concrete structure by adding water and remixing it to a new base material.

The thesis evolved through a series of experiments focusing on simple geometries to elaborate vaults. The various test results were analyzed and adjusted via feedback loops for comparison and improvement of the prototypical form through a series of geometric evolutions, studies, and observations on the behavior and performance of the 3D printed clay form-work. The final prototype of the concrete vault structure was structurally analyzed with computational tools. The outcome resulted in a combination of unique aesthetics and structural efficiency.