Project

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Robotergestützte Assemblierung differenzierter Holztragwerke

English title Additive Robotic Fabrication of Complex Timber Structures
Applicant Kohler Matthias Daniel
Number 139444
Funding scheme NRP 66 Resource Wood
Research institution Architektur und Digitale Fabrikation Institut für Technologie in der Architektur ETH Zürich
Institution of higher education ETH Zurich - ETHZ
Main discipline Architecture and Social urban science
Start/End 01.03.2012 - 30.06.2017
Approved amount 784'564.00
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All Disciplines (2)

Discipline
Architecture and Social urban science
Other disciplines of Engineering Sciences

Keywords (14)

Architecture; Robotic; Fabrication; Additive; Complex; Design; Research; Implementation; Parameter; Assembly; Timber; Prefabrication; Innovation; Structure

Lay Summary (German)

Lead
Robotergestützte Assemblierung komplexer Holztragwerke Mithilfe von Robotern können komplexe Holztragwerke aus einfachen Grundelementen präzise und ressourcenschonend zusammengesetzt werden. Während drei Jahre untersucht eine Forschungsgruppe anhand mehrerer 1:1-Prototypen, wie sich digitale Entwurfs- und Fabrikationsprozesse auf den konstruktiven Holzbau der Zukunft auswirken.
Lay summary

Hintergrund
Angesichts der weltweiten Verknappung von Ressourcen wird deren effizientere Nutzung immer wichtiger. Ein Ansatz dafür stellt die robotergestützte Assemblierung komplexer Holztragwerke dar. Im Gegensatz zu den herkömmlichen Techniken erlaubt diese Methode, geometrisch unterschiedliche Tragwerksformen präzis und effizient – ohne Materialverschnitt – herzustellen. Zugleich lassen sich mit Hilfe der robotergestützten Assemblierung alternative Konstruktionstechniken entwickeln, für die auch Werkstoffe minderer Qualität geeignet sind. Weitere Vorteile dieses Verfahrens liegen in der Möglichkeit, gestalterische und fabrikationstechnische Eigenschaften (z. B. geometrisch differenzierte Strukturen bei gleichbleibender Qualität der Holzverbindungen) zu integrieren. Hierin kann gerade die Herstellung komplexer Holzbauteile nachhaltig gestaltet werden.

Ziel
Das Forschungsvorhaben lässt sich in mehrere Phasen unterteilen. Es beginnt mit der Erarbeitung eines Kriterienkataloges. Auf dieser Grundlage entwickeln die Forschenden anschliessend ein digitales Entwurfs- und Fabrikationsverfahren, das der Erforschung neuartiger Konstruktionstechniken dient. Darauf aufbauend übertragen sie die gewonnenen Resultate auf grössere Massstäbe und bauen ein Modell (Demonstrator). Dieses liefert die analytische Grundlage, um neue, roboterbasierte Fabrikationsprozesse genau zu charakterisieren und in der Industrie effizient umzusetzen.

Bedeutung
Die Bedeutung des Forschungsprojekts liegt vor allem in der Umsetzungsorientierung. So verwenden die Forschenden eine industrielle (angewandte) Fertigungs- und Verfahrenstechnik und erheben neue mess- und überprüfbare Daten, die für das verarbeitende Holzgewerbe wesentlich sind.

Direct link to Lay Summary Last update: 25.01.2013

Lay Summary (French)

Lead
Assemblage assisté par robot de structures porteuses complexes en bois A l’aide de robots, des éléments de base simples sont assemblés pour former des structures porteuses complexes en bois, de manière précise et économe en ressources. A l'aide de plusieurs prototypes à l’échelle 1:1, un groupe de recherche va analyser pendant trois ans les répercussions que des processus numériques de conception et de fabrication peuvent avoir sur le secteur de la construction en bois de l’avenir.
Lay summary

Contexte
La raréfaction des ressources dans le monde rend d’autant plus urgente l’optimisation de leur exploitation. L’assemblage robotisé de structures porteuses complexes va dans ce sens. A la différence des techniques traditionnelles, il permet de fabriquer, avec précision et efficience – sans perte de matériau à la découpe –, des structures porteuses de géométrie variable. De plus, ce mode d’assemblage permet de développer des techniques de construction alternatives auxquelles se prêtent également des matériaux de qualité moindre. L’autre avantage est l’intégration de propriétés conceptuelles et de fabrication (par ex. structures à la géométrie légèrement nuancée, sans perte de qualité de l’assemblage du bois), tout en conférant une dimension durable à la fabrication de composantes complexes en bois.

But
Le projet de recherche comporte plusieurs phases. Il commence par l’élaboration d’un catalogue de critères. Sur cette base, les chercheurs développent ensuite un procédé de conception et de fabrication servant à explorer des techniques de construction de types nouveaux. Ils transposent à une échelle supérieure les résultats ainsi obtenus en construisant une maquette (Demonstrator). Celle-ci fournit les bases analytiques permettant de caractériser avec précision de nouveaux procédés de fabrication basés sur des robots et de les transposer avec efficacité à échelle industrielle.

Portée
L’importance du projet de recherche réside en tout premier lieu dans son orientation pratique. Les chercheurs recourent à une technique industrielle (appliquée) de fabrication et recueillent de nouvelles données, mesurables et vérifiables, essentielles à l’industrie de transformation du bois.

Direct link to Lay Summary Last update: 25.01.2013

Lay Summary (English)

Lead
Robot-assisted assembly of complex timber structures With the help of robots, complex timber structures can be precisely assembled from basic elements while saving resources. For a three-year period, a research group working with 1:1 prototypes will study the effects of digital design and fabrication processes on the structural timber of the future.
Lay summary

Background
As resources grow increasingly scarce in our world, their efficient use is becoming all the more important. One approach to this involves the robot-assisted assembly of complex timber structures. In contrast to traditional techniques, this method allows for the precise and efficient production of geometrically different types of structures without waste material. At the same time, robot-assisted assembly can be used to develop alternative construction techniques which may even utilise building materials of inferior quality. Further advantages of this procedure are the possibility of integrating design and fabrication properties (e.g. geometrically differentiated structures without any loss of quality in the wood joints). This allows for the sustainable production of complex timber elements.

Aim
The project can be split into several phases. It begins with the preparation of a criteria catalogue. Based on this catalogue, the researchers develop a digital design and fabrication process which can be used to explore innovative construction techniques. They then transfer the results gained in the previous step to larger scales and build a model (demonstrator). This model provides the analytical basis for the precise characterisation and efficient industrial use of robot-based fabrication processes.

Significance
The significance of the research project lies in the fact that it directly targets implementation. Thus, the researchers use an industrial (applied) production and process technology and collect new, verifiable data that are of importance to the wood manufacturing sector.

Direct link to Lay Summary Last update: 25.01.2013

Responsible applicant and co-applicants

Employees

Publications

Publication
Additive Robotic Fabrication of Complex Timber Structures
Helm Volker, Knauss Michael, Thomas Kohlhammer, Fabio Gramazio, Matthias Kohler (2016), Additive Robotic Fabrication of Complex Timber Structures, Routledge, London.
New connections suitable for robotic assembly of complex timber structures
Sigrist Christophe, Zock Peter (2016), New connections suitable for robotic assembly of complex timber structures, in Eberhardsteiner Josef (ed.), TU Verlag, Wien, 246-253.
Robotic timber construction — Expanding additive fabrication to new dimensions
Jan Willmann, Michael Knauss, Tobias Bonwetsch, Aleksandra Anna Apolinarska, Fabio Gramazio, Matthias Kohler (2016), Robotic timber construction — Expanding additive fabrication to new dimensions, in Automation in Construction, 61, 16-23.
A New Physics of Construction
Gramazio Fabio, Kohler Matthias, Willmann Jan (2014), A New Physics of Construction, T+A (Time+Architecture), China.
Additive robotergestützte Herstellung komplexer Holzstrukturen
Zock Peter, Eduard Bachmann, Gramazio Fabio, Kohler Matthias, Kohlhammer Thomas, Knauß Michael, Sigrist Christophe, Sitzmann Stefan (2014), Additive robotergestützte Herstellung komplexer Holzstrukturen, Swiss Wood Innovation Network (S-WIN), Weinfelden.
Authoring Robotic Processes
Gramazio Fabio, Kohler Matthias, Willmann Jan (2014), Authoring Robotic Processes, in AD, 84(229), 14-21.
The Robotic Touch – How Robots Change Architecture
Gramazio Fabio, Kohler Matthias, Willmann Jan (2014), The Robotic Touch – How Robots Change Architecture, Park Books, Zurich.

Collaboration

Group / person Country
Types of collaboration
Berner Fachhochschule - Architektur, Holz und Bau Switzerland (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Publication
- Research Infrastructure
Nolax AG Switzerland (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
Oest Group Germany (Europe)
- Industry/business/other use-inspired collaboration

Scientific events

Active participation

Title Type of contribution Title of article or contribution Date Place Persons involved
Advancing Wood Architecture Talk given at a conference Additive Robotic Fabrication of Complex Timber Structures 27.03.2015 Frankfurt am Mein, Germany Kohler Matthias Daniel; Apolinarska Aleksandra Ania; Helm Volker;
Travelling Exhibition for NRP66 “Resource Wood” Poster Connection Technologies for Robotic Assembly of Timber Structures 20.10.2014 Fribourg, Switzerland Helm Volker; Zock Peter; Kohler Matthias Daniel; Gramazio Fabio; Kohlhammer Thomas; Sigrist Christophe; Bachmann Eduard; Sitzmann Stefan; Knauss Michael;
Travelling Exhibition for NRP66 “Resource Wood” Poster Design- and Fabrication System for Robotic Assembly of Timber Structures 20.10.2014 Fribourg, Switzerland Knauss Michael; Helm Volker; Kohler Matthias Daniel; Zock Peter; Bachmann Eduard; Gramazio Fabio; Sitzmann Stefan; Kohlhammer Thomas; Sigrist Christophe;


Self-organised

Title Date Place
Innovative concepts for glued connections in timber construction 15.10.2015 Biel, Switzerland

Knowledge transfer events

Active participation

Title Type of contribution Date Place Persons involved
Wald und Holz 4.0 Poster 10.11.2016 Zollikofen, Switzerland Sitzmann Stefan;
S-WIN: Digitale Fertigung im Holzbau Poster 18.10.2016 Weinfelden, Switzerland Sitzmann Stefan; Sigrist Christophe; Ursin Huwiler; Bachmann Eduard; Apolinarska Aleksandra Ania; Helm Volker;
Generalversammlung Pro Holz Schweiz (Verein) Performances, exhibitions (e.g. for education institutions) 10.05.2016 Biel, Switzerland Sitzmann Stefan; Ursin Huwiler; Sigrist Christophe; Bachmann Eduard;
LIGNA - World Fair for the Forestry and Wood Industries 2015 Poster 11.05.2015 Hannover, Germany Bachmann Eduard; Sitzmann Stefan;


Communication with the public

Communication Title Media Place Year
Media relations: print media, online media "Robotergestützt gebaut" "nicht nur Beilage" (fachkom Magazine) German-speaking Switzerland 2016
Media relations: print media, online media Komplexe Holztragwerke – robotergestützt gebaut spirit Biel/Bienne German-speaking Switzerland Western Switzerland Rhaeto-Romanic Switzerland 2016

Associated projects

Number Title Start Funding scheme
150856 Mobile Robotic Unit for In-Situ Fabrication 01.07.2014 R'EQUIP

Abstract

In view of a worldwide shortage of energy resources and an increasing concern about climate change, the proposal aims at a radically advanced application of timber in particular consideration of economic and ecologic criteria. In this respect, the project researches a highly integrated digital design and fabrication process for timber. It examines the next logical step in timber pre-fabrication by introducing robotic assembly instead of traditional manual joining or automation of parts. Key to this approach is the underlying notion that complex timber-derived structures can be built up from very simple parts of softwood - most commonly perceived as low-grade or even waste material. However, this represents a precious feature that should be exploited to increase both the material’s functional and aesthetic value. Here, the precise and efficient robotic assembly permits the folding of small parts into complex, robust and lightweight structures that use material very sparingly. In turn, a variety of highly articulated complex timber structures can be produced while providing the optimization for structural efficiency through a specific localized allocation of material. The recent development in the field of digital fabrication has led to unexplored aesthetical articulations and should be connected to investigations based on construction and material innovation, thus putting the traditional resource timber into an entirely new technological context. The scientific hypothesis performs intense interdisciplinary collaboration and can be described as precisely matching digital design and robotic fabrication (ETH) with the particular experience of structural timber engineering (BFH) and of automation development for a larger industrial scale (BFH). The idea is this hypothesis is to make a complementary link between design, construction and fabrication and to use available expertise and facilities for innovation research in this field. This will allow exploring a new generation of complex timber structures with a great impact on the Swiss building and construction sector. Furthermore, it will foster Switzerland’s position as internationally leading research center for future building technology. Other than focusing on either design or material or technology, this approach will permit to explore the full potential of timber. Therefore, particular attention will be given to the characterization of construction and fabrication criteria, the development of reliable, efficient and economic connection techniques and advanced digital design methods. The proposed research project will be conducted for three years. In addition, it is planned the implementation of the project on an industrial scale and therefore it is aimed at the continuation of research after this period. The research project is divided into three depended research areas that are summarized with respective main tasks, cooperative development and clear requirements. On this basis, the research project and its large scale implications allows for opening numerous possibilities for woodworking innovation where a smarter use of timber as a valuable resource can be pursued. The following main tasks are planned: - To develop a sustainable, innovative and reliable approach to the additive robotic fabrication of complex timber structures. - To qualify the performance possibilities to be fulfilled by using additive robotic fabrication for the construction of complex timber structures.- To quantify the possibilities and parameters being decisive for the use of robotic fabrication in the field of complex timber structures.- To perform an extensive experimental investigation on additive robotic fabrication by developing and testing different 1:1 prototypes for the reliable characterization of fundamental design, construction and material criteria. - To provide with unmatched knowledge about the mechanical and physical properties as well as structural behavior of robotically fabricated timber structures. - To increase the application of robotic fabrication in this field and therefore to significantly improve the substitution potential of timber.In sum, the proposed project will provide with unexplored potentials of the functional and aesthetic potential as well as the constructive behavior of robotically fabricated complex timber structures. Since timber is by definition a multifunctional material where a wide range of traditional construction techniques can be applied, additive robotic fabrication allows to fully exploit this up to now insufficiently used potential. While today’s industrial automatization in the context of timber construction shifts interest to machining single elements or similar components, additive robotic fabrication aims at an automated yet individual constructive assembly. Also, unlike building these structures by hand, one of the most precious features of additive robotic fabrication in this context is a highly efficient and precise assembly, particularly when considering an agglomeration of a large amount of small timber members. This innovation will lead to an increased use of timber for today’s ever more complex and demanding building tasks. It will significantly improve sustainable and substitutional potential of timber.
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