Francisco Castaño father and son inducted into the IM Technology Hall of Fame for the Freedome

In a very close contest with Dick Stahura, Martin Engineering’s leading expert on controlling carryback, dust, and spillage from belt conveyors, Francisco Castaño father and son are inducted in the bulk handling category for 2015 into the International Mining Technology Hall of Fame (supported by Hatch). Francisco Castaño Hernandez (deceased), was a Mexican engineer who initially specialised in building concrete shells in the 1960s, and then broadened the horizon to metal gridshell technology is , he is referred to as Francisco Castaño Sr. to distinguish him from his son, Francisco Castaño, the current CEO of the company his father started, Geometrica.

For 23 years, Geometrica has built strong, energy-efficient structures around the globe. Its expertise is due, in large part, to the pioneers of gridshell technology. Among them is Castaño Sr. He was the first to realise the potential for free form and long span in gridshell design. Geometrica domes, barrel vaults and long span structures have taken gridshell technology to new heights all over the globe, thanks to his pioneering efforts.

Design and fabrication of gridshells requires exacting calculations, measurements, jigs and tools. It is difficult enough these days with high-speed electronic computers. But back in the 1960s, computers were people, and the design of arbitrary forms was beyond imaginable. Castaño Sr. developed a system of design that involved laying out parallel pairs of coordinate maps representing a gridshell’s geometry.

Each map was drawn on a ‘blanket’ of paper that was often 10 m2. Using mechanical calculators, slide rules and tables of trigonometric, algebraic and logarithmic functions, human computers would tape coordinates on the geometry blanket, then calculate lengths, cut angles, twists and other fabrication parameters for each of a gridshell’s components.

To achieve the volume of calculations Castaño Sr. required, the recruited “computers” often went beyond himself and employees, to friends, wife and children. Everything was done twice, once on each of the blankets. The results were then tabulated and cross-checked thoroughly. Despite the limited technology, the whole process would have aced a modern ISO 9001 audit. The resulting forms were revolutionary, including hypars, geodesic domes, freeform shells, hyperboloids of revolution.

Through the years dome technology continued to evolve and led to the Freedome® — Geometrica’s trademarked free-style dome. As circular domes, Freedomes may have lamella, Lace™ or Sol™ in-surface patterns and single or double grid layers. But these structures can also be designed with a non-circular plan, bringing complete design freedom to architects and engineers the world over. Using the inherent strength of doubly curved surfaces, Freedomes can clear spans up to 300 m on any terrain, including brutal mountainside slopes or areas with an irregular shape requiring a nonconventional enclosure.

Don’t forget to put your nominations in (to for the 2016 inductions. There are 12 categories:


2.Underground development

3.Underground Production

4.Surface mining



7.Mining software


9.Bulk handling


11.Environmental management and stewardship

12.Outstanding innovator.

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