This brief project was conceived to bring together industrial and academic partners to deliver a tangible result in one week. The aim was to construct a doubly-curved timber pavilion with a pair of robots and an array of tools. The design brief contained a number of constraints consistent with flexible DfMA: simplicity of connections, flatness of solid panels and freedom of the overall form.
The result was a reciprocal timber structure (where elements support each other and therefore require no additional columns) braced by flat plywood panels. This innovative structural achievement was in large part due to the previous study of timber structures and complex geometry by certain project partners. With the complex geometry of the pavilion a number of unique features were required in each timber element. Notably, the ends of each structural beam were at unique angles, each beam needed notches for the alignment of its supporting elements and, to maintain planarity of the bracing sheets, unique grooves needed to be cut into each of the beams.
A pair of robots worked together to fabricate the pavilion’s components. In the first phase one of the robots, on a track, would pick a timber beam which it then took to a stationary, circular saw to cut the ends to their required angles. Then the beam would be presented to the second robot for the milling of the ends and any required notches. Finally the manipulator would take the beam to a stationary drill to make any pilot holes and deposit the completed part on a palette for later assembly.
All of the robot programming and simulation for the project used the HAL Robotics Framework.