“We wanted to push the boundaries of how intricate we could design things through computation and how we could create them through 3D printing,” AiBuild says. 3D printing may be seen as the future of fabrication but it can be an expensive, time-consuming, and unscalable endeavour.
To scale up the printing process, AiBuild strapped foam guns to KUKA robotic arms and programmed them to print intricate structures.To cut costs and expedite construction, they combined the standard layer-by-layer design with a lattice work design that printed filament at angles while small fans simultaneously cooled and hardened the material.
Fabrication leaves little room for error, so the robots had to print at a snail’s pace, excreting filament precisely and uniformly, then waiting for it to dry. If Ai Build wanted quicker – and thus cheaper – printing, it would either risk structural defects or have to overcome a fundamental flaw in robotics – blindness.
They attached cameras to their robots and used machine vision algorithms to analyze the structures as they were being printed. To create a feedback loop between the physical environment and the digital environment.
With its new set of eyes, the robotic arm could detect defects and compensate for them in subsequent layers.
The advantages are
- high speed, because errors can be seen and corrected by the robot itself.
- cost, less material and time is needed and
- structures can be build as a single, complete unit