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Deltavorm helps student with 3-dimensional, bio-based panels

A system of 3-dimensional panels made of biological composite that can be used as façade cladding. Student Laura Romano conceived and developed this. Deltavorm helped her with a mould to hot press a scaled-down prototype of a panel.

What do you study?
“I am studying Building Technology, a master track of Architecture, Urbanism and Building Science at TU Delft. Building Technology can be conceived as a hybrid study which is filling the gap between architecture and engineering, which takes care of sustainable design.”

How did you come up with the topic for your thesis? 
“Building technology encompass four main topics: Climate design, Façade and Product Design, Structural Design and Design Informatics. For the graduation project, two fields need to be chosen, from which a topic will be developed. I decided to specialize in façade and product design and design informatics. Considering the topic choice, I was fascinated by 3-dimensional cladding because of its peculiar architectural expression and added values they give to the buildings. While analyzing architectural references having this peculiarity, the attention has been taken mainly to two of the four domains of circularity to understand how to proceed with creating my product: design and material."

"The material and the 3D-design have a correlation. 
I can make a new design system with a circular product."

What can you tell about the material?
"This research started by understanding the impact that usual materials used for three-dimensional cladding are causing on the environment. Considering their mechanical properties, materials such as metals, concrete and glass are the most used ones. However, they’re not very sustainable. Therefore, the extraction and production of such materials are primarily responsible for global greenhouse emissions, moreover, causing a gradual depletion of resources since most of the mentioned materials are non-renewable.

As designers, we must find an alternative to reduce material extraction, minimizing energy production and waste. Therefore, it is important to switch from a linear economy - in which the number of materials and energy are not recovered - to a circular economy, which aims to lower environmental pressures and emissions.

Therefore, regarding material choice, bio-based materials have been considered since they are organic, renewable, they can be made of residual streams, and they can be collected locally. I’ve made an analysis of certified materials bio-based for external cladding. In doing so, I discovered that NPSP in Amsterdam offers Nabasco 8010 material. It’s a bio-composite material composed of natural fibers, resin, and a filler taken from waste. This material can be processed through a hot-press process. Therefore, a mold is needed. After I selected the material, I started designing with a bi-weekly support of the Amsterdam-based Studio Etcetera.”

Sounds good. And the system, is it flexible?
“The panel system consists of modular elements that have been designed parametrically. Therefore, considering the developed parameters, the design could potentially change considering the preferences. Furthermore, flexibility is emphasized by the seamless tiling concept, which is a self-term coined that refers to pattern continuity. Thus, the panel has been designed to be easily placed and rotated wherever within the façade, allowing the chance to create different configurations by using the same limited number of panels, reducing drastically the number of moulds."

How will you deliver a 'proof of concept'?
“With a prototype. For that I asked to collaborate with Deltavorm for the realization of a top and a bottom metal mould. The prototype will be scaled down to 20cm and, after the digital modeling, CNC milling programming and machining will be held. Finally, the mold can be brought to NPSP for hot-pressing the prototype."

How did you get in touch with Deltavorm? 
“Search in Google. I like the company; they combine manufacturing and design. Tjomme helped me a lot, although I still don't know how to pronounce his name. 
At the moment I’m finishing my report and have to produce the prototype. It is a pleasure to work with NPSP and Deltavorm with efficient results.”

Experiences Tjomme from Deltavorm:
"Nice project and very driven student, good skills in communication and thorough - and therefore pleasant to work with. Also learned a few things myself, such as working with materials that are very thick for us (85 mm) and gained experience in designing and processing such moulds. There were only four days between approval of the mould and pressing, which is very short, but we succeeded."

What Deltavorm did
"We modified Laura’s intended 
model to suit NPSP's requirements. A draft angle on the product was needed to prevent it from getting stuck in the mould. It ultimately took three versions of the digital model to get everyone on the same page. A top- and bottom mould was then generated from that model. Fortunately, our software has all kinds of clever tools for this. In the end, two versions were needed to get the mould approved at NPSP.

Exactly one week before Laura's final presentation, we could start making the parts. We worked on it with two men and two machines simultaneously. It was very tight and no margin for error, but in the end, we succeeded with a lot of effort. Laura was still enthusiastic when receiving the mould so I think it's all right. My colleague Daan is doing the honours for Delta-form at Laura's presentation at TU. It is now Tuesday and she pressed it - and more importantly, she made it!"

Reasons for doing this project
- Interesting because making moulds is what we do
- Ideologically also interesting because of the material which helps to create a better world
- Curiosity

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