Using textile and robots, traditional concrete casting is now facing a tourning point thanks to Joseph Sarafian and Ron Culver’s design process, first developed at the UCLA, in LA.
Ron Culver and Joseph Sarafian are developing a new process of working concrete, combining the flexibility of fabric with the precision of six-axis robot arms to stretch fabric for concrete casting. Traditional casting methods promote repetition of forms, in facts any variation in the design requires a new form to be built (usually out of plywood), not to mention the difficulty of casting compound shapes without breakage when the mold is removed. Robotically-positioned fabric formwork is meant to make these barriers a thing of the past.
Joseph Sarafian and Ron Culver took what they gained in a technology seminar and expanded it into a process for realizing variation in parametric geometry. Sewn Lycra sleeves are attached to six-Axis Kuka robots and stretched into position. Concrete with a fiber admixture is then poured into the sleeves and hardens. The fabric is stripped away with minimal waste, the robots re-position themselves and a new piece is cast.
Connecting the pieces is achieved through bolting with a 3D printed node. Since the entire composition is designed in 3D, each unique connection angle can be coordinated for a seamless connection in the physical world. Gravitational and stretching simulations were also conducted using Grasshopper3D and Kangaroo. This project is currently being scaled up to achieve building-scale elements including facades and primary structure.
Ron Culver and Joseph Sarafian began this project as an independent study while at UCLA Suprastudio with lecturer Julia Koerner. Early experiments were aided by Peter Vikar, Shobitha Jacob, Oscar Li, and Qi Zhang.