Additive manufacturing technology can free the designer and manufacturer from the constraints related to formwork making for castable materials. However, the removal of formwork remains a challenging task for specific geometric features such as undercuts and hollow parts. The entire formwork must be reachable, by humans or machines, to be broken, but even then, there is a great risk of damaging the final concrete surface or destroying intricate details.
The research addresses the creation of dissolvable, 3D printed formwork that can be simply washed away after the cast concrete has cured, using only water and no additional chemical solvents. Fused Deposition Modeling is chosen as the 3D printing method, due to its high availability and low operational costs. In order to ensure a high-quality surface finish of the concrete components and easy formwork removal, a range of materials are tested for their printability as well as their dissolving performance.
Investigations of 3D printed geometrical features to strengthen the formwork and integrate other functional layers, optimized for minimal material usage and fast printing speed, are making the process more sustainable and cost-effective. The results of this research enable complexity and richness in contemporary architecture of concrete, while they offer a nearly zero-waste production method.