Fabric, Plastic, Heat

Katryna Carter’s Snap Lamp Cover

Katryna Cater Snap Lamp Cover

A second project the Zero House shown at the Thermoplastic House Workshop run by Mark Goldthorpe at MIT’s School of Architecture, featured thin skin fiberglass textile composite as a way to quickly produce low cost, durable housing for Haiti.  Scaling up here is a panel produced in collaboration with Construction Solutions in Amesbury, MA that has a polystyrene core that provides not only stiffness, but also the insulation requirement for the house.  The panels are joined at the seam by a biscuit like piece also made of a folded piece of composite.  The workshop explored ways that the house could be made entirely of this thermoplastic coated fiberglass using the existing production machines in the Construction Solutions factory.  Ultimately the entire house would be panels seamed together by the biscuit type joint. What is really great about the house is that it is parametric and can be designed by others to suit their needs.  It is envisioned by the workshop group that the house is produced by a fablab on site, so remaining to consider as part of the design is how others in situ communities interface with all the great programming tools used to produce the house. Also fantastic was the fact that the group collaborated with a Sustainable Life Cycle team out at Stanford to see how the Zero House stacked up against conventional concrete block construction, the results were favorable for the Zero House.


Automated Fiber Placement Robot Constructing Fusilage

Starting off the Thermoplastic House Workshop Michael Silver presented his work on Composite Architectures:  Engineering Complex Fiber Placed Structural Membranes for Sustainable Building Applications.  Michael showed his work using Automated Fiber Placement, AFP to place thermoplastic tape like material in patterns along a mandrel creating a light and stiff beam for use in buildings. This is the same method used to make a single piece fuselage for this Hawker Beechcraft 4000 Jet, eliminating the thousands of parts and fasteners typically used to construct jet bodies.   Using one material and a single process to drive the design of the piece Michael Silver has discovered simply by layering the material one can create gradients to accommodate different structural capacities as well as meet different lighting requirements. Also impressive is the great synopsis of the potential sustainability of this particular method.  Here is a link to the report on his work funded by the Boston Society of Architects Research Grants.   Definitely worth the time to read it through.


(The image of the fusilage is from http://www.mmsonline.com/cdn/cms/Viper%20machine%20%202.jpg)

We are 43 years post The Graduate and we did go into plastics big time, but it’s the plastic leftover that troubles us now.  Does it never go away?

What kinds of plastics are good to use and can be reused more than one time? What kinds of energy goes into making these?  If you know drop a line.