This research explores the potential of using 3D-printed, recyclable, water-soluble formwork for a more sustainable and intricate concrete casting process. The study focuses on two case studies: a block and a column fabricated using polyvinyl alcohol (PVA) and paper porcelain clay. The objective is to evaluate the fabrication methods and compare the advantages and limitations of each material workflow. By analyzing the case studies’ outcomes and comparing formwork removal procedures, the research demonstrates the potential of these formwork workflows to significantly reduce embodied carbon emissions associated with concrete casting by promoting formwork recycling. The block formwork showcases the capabilities of modular formwork systems, utilizing aggregated component parts to create larger formwork structures. The PVA formwork produces aesthetically pleasing results with high fidelity to the digital model, while the clay formwork offers a more cost-effective solution. The column formwork highlights the ability to print intricate designs as a single unit, with the PVA formwork achieving near-perfect casts resembling the digital model. Both formwork methods are water-soluble, with the clay formwork easily removed by hand, whereas the PVA formwork requires dissolution and additional processing. The recycling processes differ, with the clay formwork being more sustainable as it does not require the introduction of virgin clay. However, recycling PVA necessitates using 50% virgin material, making it less self-sustaining. This research emphasizes the potential benefits of incorporating 3D-printed, recyclable, water-soluble formwork in the construction industry, paving the way for more sustainable and environmentally friendly practices. Future research will explore methods to hide the clay formwork’s layering effect, increase the formwork systems’ scale, and investigate the integration of concrete reinforcement. The findings contribute to the advancement of sustainable construction practices and highlight the possibilities of formwork recycling to eliminate formwork waste and reduce carbon emissions in concrete casting processes.
The block design, its modular formwork components, and the formwork systems.
 Resulting blocks from the PVA (left) and clay (right) formwork
 This diagram shows the column design and the clay and PVA formwork.
 The first diagram describes the clay formwork recycling process. Printing is marked as 1, assembly as 2, casting as 3, desiccation, removal, rehydration as 4, and clay drying as 5. Images A and B show module joining with porcelain slip, C displays formwork assembly and casting, and D depicts clay removal. The second diagram presents the PVA formwork recycling process. Number 1 indicates adding pellets to the extruder for printing, 2 represents formwork assembly, 3 and F portray casting, 4 and G display PVA dissolution, and 5 shows grinding recycled sheets into pellets.
 Resulting columns from the PVA (left) and clay (right)

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