Father, Son and Freedome® Win Hall of Fame Award

Francisco Castaño father and son are being inducted into the International Mining Technology Hall of Fame for their groundbreaking Freedome® technology. This announcement, dated October 19, 2015, recognizes pioneers of innovation within the mining industry. In a close vote within the Bulk Handling category of the International Mining Technology Hall of Fame, Francisco Castano, and Francisco Castano, Jr. of Geometrica have been chosen as joint 2015 inductees by a global panel of judges.

Father / Son Recognition


This is a posthumous award for Castano, Sr., a Mexican engineer who began experimenting with gridshell technology in the 1960s. His interesting back story can be read here.

His son and CEO of Geometrica, Francisco Jr., applied geodesic principles to develop Freedome® technology, which allows the design and installation of free form structures on any terrain, on any continent. Today, Geometrica designs and installs premier domes and vaults to enclose ore and mineral stockpiles. With applications in more than 30 countries, Geometrica specializes in bulk storage, materials handling and environmental markets worldwide.

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, and hyperboloids of revolution.

Official news of this Hall of Fame induction was posted on the International Mining website October 19, 2015. A full induction article, including father-son bios, will appear in the Technology Hall of Fame supplement in the May 2016 issue of International Mining.

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