Cooperative Robotic Fabrication

Cooperative Robotic Fabrication of Timber Dowel Assemblies

Andreas Thoma, David Jenny, Matthias Helmreich, Augusto Gandia, Fabio Gramazio and Matthias Kohler
ETH Zurich, Switzerland

This research is developed within the Master of Advanced Studies in Architecture and Digital Fabrication program at ETH Zurich. This paper by Andreas Thoma, David Jenny, Matthias Helmreich, Augusto Gandia, Fabio Gramazio and Matthias Kohler, presents a novel constructive system made solely of wood, enabled by a cooperative robotic fabrication process.

The constructive system builds on recent developments in dowel-laminated timber (DLT) as well as advances made in the field of digital fabrication. The paper demonstrates through three experiments how the design space of the dowel-laminated timber constructive system can be expanded, through the implementation of cooperative robotic arms, from purely planar geometries to more complex and curved ones.

To connect the individual slats, two types of dowel connectors were tested: the fluted dowel and the dry dowel. The fabrication process employs a large robotic setup allowing for the prefabrication of full-scale building elements and enables a method of in place fabrication that counteracts the inaccuracy buildup that occurs during assembly.

Two custom robot end-effectors for gripping and drilling timber slats are also introduced. Finally, a conclusion and outlook as to what the next steps in this research could be are presented.

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