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Buildings—3D printing molds

Researchers 3D printed molds for precasting concrete using the Big Area Additive Manufacturing, or BAAM™, system at DOE’s Manufacturing Demonstration Facility at ORNL. Complex, durable mold designs can be produced in less time than traditional wood or fiberglass molds. Credit: Jason Richards/Oak Ridge National Laboratory, U.S. Dept. of Energy

August 1, 2018 – The construction industry may soon benefit from 3D printed molds to make concrete facades, promising lower cost and production time. Researchers at Oak Ridge National Laboratory are evaluating the performance of 3D printed molds used to precast concrete facades in a 42-story building. Molds are typically handmade from wood and fiberglass coatings, and they must be resurfaced after 20 to 30 pours. A 3D printed mold could potentially cast up to 200 pieces. “With 3D printed molds, architects can create complex designs for cornices and columns that they have not previously explored,” said ORNL’s Diana Hun. The research team used large-scale additive manufacturing technology to produce the molds, which are about as large as a queen size mattress. Industry partners were Gate Precast and Precast Concrete Institute.