The concrete robot makes monsters of the past

Thomas Juul Andersen

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The concrete robot makes monsters of the past

Wednesday, 13th February, 2008, in the early morning, the Concrete Centre’s robot completes yet another moulding job. Clearly, this job differs significantly from the previous ones. Until that day, the robot has been used to produce moulds for concrete. However, it is evident that this morning the work piece produced is totally unfit as a concrete mould. Most of all, it looks like a big fish with flippers and a vicious grin.

As it turns out, down at Geocenter Møns Klint, a model of a fully grown mosasaurus is on display – an animal of the past that swam in the ocean 65 million years ago. It was decided that this mosasaurus should have the company of a young one, more than two meters long. After being awarded the contract to create the young mosasaurus, the company 10Tons, which has specialized in making animal models, got in touch with the Danish Technological Institute to find out if it was possible to have the animal milled out on the robot at the Concrete Centre.

The starting point for this job is a set of digital 3D CAD models supplied by the customer. These models have been converted into a milling program at the Concrete Centre telling the robot how to produce the work piece, and which tools are to be used. Both tasks have been carried out using expanded polystyrene as raw material, a material that has shown a big potential for serving as concrete moulds. This material is cheap, light (it consists of 98% air), easy to work, and has a high pressure strength. Now, this material has also proved very suitable for making models. Of course, expanded polystyrene is not the only material the robot can work on. Promising tests have been made milling on for example MDF, wax, and plaster, and in theory, the only limiting factor is the imagination.

Subsequently, the mosasaurus young has been coated with polyester and paint and equipped with teeth and a tongue so that it makes a realistic copy of the real animal from the past. Finally, it has been united with its mother at Geocenter Møns Klint.

En over to meter lang mosasaurus-unge fræset ud i ekspanderet polystyren af Betoncentrets robot.

Mosasaurus young, over two meters in length, milled out in expanded polystyrene by the robot at the Concrete Centre.