The demand for flexible formwork systems in increasing, partly due to digital design techniques and the associated ‘unlimited’ design potential. Even the most complex geometric shapes can be easily modelled and analysed using advanced software packages. And although there are (digital) manufacturing techniques, the digital design are typically difficult to produce, if possible at all.

Commissioned by ABT research has been done at the Eindhoven University of Technology (TU/e) on the structural and morphological characteristics of vacuumatic structures (or: vacuumatics). By applying these adaptable structures as flexible formwork systems, ‘free forms’ and customised surface textures in concrete can be produced relatively easy. This effectively closes the gap between digital design and practical feasibility.

PhD research
From 2008 to 2014, Frank Huijben, conducted a PhD research at the Eindhoven University of Technology commissioned by ABT. This research has been supervised by professor Frans van Herwijnen (TU/e – ABT) and professor Rob Nijsse (Delft University of Technology entitled: ‘Vacuumatics: 3D Formwork Systems'. For more information:

Afbeelding: Vacuumatics proeven Frank Huijben

Dutch Design Week
During the Dutch Design Week, the PhD research study was part of the exhibition ‘Mind the Step’ by the universities of technology of Eindhoven, Delft and Twente. This joint exhibition demonstrates how technology, in combination with research and design, leads to the improvement and enrichment of all possible human activities.

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