Fabrication-Informed Design of Robotically Assembled Structures

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Digital fabrication has substantially expanded the design possibilities for architectural construction. While we can nowadays fabricate a much larger variety of geometries, the design of such structures becomes more and more difficult to control. The design space of digitally fabricated structures is inherently different from the traditional architectural design space and needs to be defined including the specific constraints and limitations of the fabrication procedure. Looking at robotic fabrication, this design space is a direct result of the robot’s kinematic behaviour, resulting in a multi-dimensional space (as a consequence of the number of axes of the robotic set-up) that cannot be intuitively described. In addition to the robots’ movement, the definition of the fabrication sequence is crucial to the success of the assembly process. As a result, the abstraction and integration of both sequence and robotic motion planning is crucial for allowing to explore the entire design space that digital fabrication processes open up. This workshop presents a set of design and robotic motion-planning tools for efficiently generating and calculating robotically assembled structures while integrating fabrication information in the design process.

The goal of the workshop is to explore the relationship between design and fabrication and to propose new tools for integrating fabrication information in the design process. The workshop focuses on robotic assembly methods and the relationship between the robot’s kinematics, the assembly sequence and the design method. Participants will design small-scale spatial bar structures that will be simulated and visualised through robotic simulation tools and ultimately assembled with robotic arms. The design process will utilize a custom sequential design set-up, for the generation of robotically assembled spatial bar structures. This design set-up will be used in combination with the pychoreo motion- and sequence-planning tool, that enables the definition of collision-free robotic movements and the identification of optimal assembly sequences. Processes that use one robot, two cooperating robots or collaborative processes between humans and robots may be developed. In addition, participants will be introduced to both the proposed design method, which integrates the robotic fabrication constraints into the design process, and the provided software tools, which were developed by the tutors. The output goal is a number of small-scale spatial structures made of wooden or acrylic bars that will exploit the robot’s capability of assembling irregular geometries and showcase the kinematic complexity of the robotic set-up.

Participants

The workshop is aimed at students, academics and professional who are interested in acquiring experience with both computational design tools for robotic assembly and hands-on robotic assembly processes. The goal is to provide a toolset that allows participants to intuitively design and physically construct spatial structures with robotic arms. Experience in programming in python or visual programming in grasshopper is desired.

Number of participants: 10 – 15

Tentative Programme

Day 1

  • Introduction to design and motion-planning tools Participants explore design tools and possible structures
  • Design of assemblies and simulation of robot movement

Day 2

  • Introduction to robotic set-up and testing assembly process
  • Construction of prototypes

Workshop Leaders

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Stefana Parascho

Stefana Parascho is Assistant Professor of Architecture at Princeton University. Her research lies at the intersection of computational design and digital fabrication and investigates how digital fabrication constraints can be directly integrated into the architectural design process. She holds a diploma in Architecture from Stuttgart University and has completed her PhD at Gramazio Kohler Research, ETH Zurich. Her thesis “Cooperative Robotic Assembly” explores methods for integrative design and cooperative fabrication of complex spatial structures. She has been teaching at the University of Stuttgart and ETH Zurich and has practiced at architecture and engineering firms, such as Knippers Helbig Advanced Engineering and design-to-production Stuttgart.

https://soa.princeton.edu/zone/people-faculty#2392

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Yijiang Huang

Yijiang Huang is a PhD student in the Digital Structures research group with Prof. Caitlin Mueller at MIT. His research involves integrating combinatorial construction-related constraints into the continuous computational structural design scheme. Currently, he works on developing fast planning algorithms to enable humans or autonomous systems to materialize design more efficiently and integrating assembly logic as a driver in early-stage conceptual design. Yijiang earned an MS in Building Technology from MIT, and a BS in Mathematics from the University of Science and Technology of China.

http://web.mit.edu/yijiangh/www/

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Caitlin Mueller

Caitlin Mueller is a researcher, designer, and educator working at the interface of architecture and structural engineering.  She is currently an Associate Professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Department of Architecture and Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, in the Building Technology Program, where she leads the Digital Structures research group. Her group’s work focuses on new digital methods for designing and making innovative and creative structures, and includes research in structural optimization, design space exploration, and digital materialization strategies. Professor Mueller earned a PhD in Building Technology from MIT, an SM in Computation for Design and Optimization from MIT, an MS in Structural Engineering from Stanford University, and a BS in Architecture from MIT, and has practiced at several architecture and engineering firms across the U.S.

http://digitalstructures.mit.edu/

Grey Wartinger

Grey Wartinger is Manager of Digital Fabrication, Technologies, and Research at the Princeton University School of Architecture. Since his start in 2017, he has overseen the creation and implementation of digital fabrication as a core working process for the school. He received his Bachelors of Architecture at Pratt Institute, where he spent nine semesters as a student shop employee, working with CNC milling machines, industrial robotic arms, metalwork, 3D printing, and various casting methodologies. Additionally, he has worked at SHoP architects and Forward Slash / ARKITEKTUR as an architectural fabricator. He has tutoring experience with regards to workshop facilities and use of digital fabrication tools.