Hot-blade Cutting for the Building Industries

The constructions of advanced architectural designs are presently very labour intensive, time consuming, and expensive. They are therefore only applied to a few prestige projects, and it is a major challenge for the building industry to bring the costs down and thereby offer the architects more variability in the (economically allowed) designs - i.e., to allow them to think out of the box. To address this challenge The Danish National Advanced Technology Foundation (now InnovationsFonden) is currently supporting the BladeRunner project that involves several Danish companies and public institutions. The project aims to reduce the amount of manual labour as well as production time by applying robots to cut expanded polystyrene (EPS) moulds for the concrete to form doubly curved surfaces. The scheme is based upon the so-called Hot Wire or Hot Blade technology where the surfaces are essentially swept out by driving an Euler elastica through a block of EPS. This paper will be centered around the mathematical challenges encountered in the implementation of this idea. Since the elastica themselves are well known and described in the works of Euler et al. already in eighteenth century, these new challenges are mainly concerned with the rationalization of the architects’ CAD drawings into surfaces that can be created via this particular sweeping and cutting technology.

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