Mobile Robotic Fabrication System for Filament Structures



The project Mobile Robotic Fabrication System for Filament Structures, demonstrates a new production process for filament structures. It proposes multiple semi-autonomous wall climbing robots to distribute fiber filament, using any horizontal or vertical surface, or even existing architecture, to support the new structures. Compared to larger scale industrial robots that are limited by position and reach, these robots are enabled with movement systems and a collection of sensors that allow them to travel and interact accurately along typical ground, walls, roofs, and ceilings. One can imagine a fabrication process where an operator arrives to the scene with a suitcase housing all the necessary robots and materials to create a large structure. These agile mobile robotic systems move robotic fabrication processes beyond the constraints of the production hall, exposing vast urban and interior environments as potential fabrication sites.
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What have you made?

I have designed and built a modular robotic system that employs multiple units for creating woven carbon fibre structures within existing architectural environments.

What gave you the initial inspiration?

I have always been fascinated by the idea of using multiple mobile robots for fabrication.
This project seemed like a great opportunity to combine my previous experience working with carbon fiber, biological research on spider web construction as well as my excitement to build custom tools.

What is the original idea behind this project?

The idea evolved gradually. Before starting with this project I have participated in two research projects focusing on how spiders build their webs. That is where the original idea of using a small robot for big structures out of thread type material comes from.

How does it work?

Each robotic unit is capable of 3 routines, which means each performs 3 basic functions.
The first one: locomotion is enabled by a set of 4 individually controlled wheels and a powerful vacuum motor placed in the center of each machine. While the vacuum motor allows the robot to stick to the wall or any other surface (ex: ceiling), the individually controlled wheels allow it to navigate along it.
The second routine is wrapping thread around the anchor point. It is enabled through a custom designed effector that allows to continuously rotate the thread bobbin around a point.
Finally passing the bobbin between two robots is achieved through equipping each machine with a set of electromagnets that hold the cartridge.
All three components are controlled from a computer via an Arduino board.

How long did it take to make it real?

It took me a full year from the early idea development to the working 2-robot prototype setup.

How did you build it?

I have been using servo motors for all the moving parts. Additionally I am using a vacuum motor and a set of electromagnets controlled via a relay board.
Robots body parts are CNC milled out of ABS, some attachment parts are 3D printed.