Computational design of fabric formwork

Xiaoting Zhang, Guoxin Fang, Melina Skouras, Gwenda Gieseler, Charlie C.L. Wang, Emily Whiting

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)


We present an inverse design tool for fabric formwork – a process where flat panels are sewn together to form a fabric container for casting a plaster sculpture. Compared to 3D printing techniques, the benefit of fabric formwork is its properties of low-cost and easy transport. The process of fabric formwork is akin to molding and casting but having a soft boundary. Deformation of the fabric container is governed by force equilibrium between the pressure forces from liquid fill and tension in the stretched fabric. The final result of fabrication depends on the shapes of the flat panels, the fabrication orientation and the placement of external supports. Our computational framework generates optimized flat panels and fabrication orientation with reference to a target shape, and determines effective locations for external supports. We demonstrate the function of this design tool on a variety of models with different shapes and topology. Physical fabrication is also demonstrated to validate our approach.

Original languageEnglish
Article number109
Number of pages13
JournalACM Transactions on Graphics
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2019


  • Casting
  • Computational design
  • Fabric formwork
  • Fabrication
  • Shape optimization


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