Great new post on Architecture & Design today. Re-posted with permission. Original article here. I asked to re-post this article because it ties in with our previous post on the Hadrian X automated brick laying truck. Technological unemployment in the construction industry is going to hit first world national very hard in the near future.
A Swiss research team have developed a new robotic metal extrusion process which unifies concrete reinforcement and form work into a single, robotically fabricated material system.
The Zurich-based Gramazio Kohler Research team has been in the process of developing Mesh Mould Metal, a project that builds on the research team’s first phase of research, Mesh Mould (2012 – 2014), which established a robotic extrusion process for a polymer mesh.
The second phase focuses on the translation of the structurally weak polymer-based extrusion process developed in the first phase by developing it into a fully load-bearing construction system with metal. Specifically, the current research explores the development of “a fully automated bending and welding process for meshes fabricated from 3-millimeter steel wire.”
According to Gramazio Kohler, the original research for Mesh Mould was based on the fact that standard robotic extrusion processes have a low loadbearing capacity, but a “high capacity for precise spatial coordination.” Due to this, they explain that “an optimal use of the machine requires construction processes with minimal mass transfer and a high degree of geometric definition.”
In their switch to a stronger metal mesh with real-world structural applications, Gramazio Kohler left behind the standard extrusion machine used for the first stage of the research. Alternatively, together with the Agile & Dexterous Robotics Lab of Professor Jonas Buchli, they developed a specialised robot capable of automatically bending and welding the metal.