Design Workshop — Introduction to Robotic Fabrication

Permission of instructor

Note: first meeting date changed from 9/11 to W 9/4 (9am-12pm)

Industrial Robots are versatile tools, affording productive capacity across myriad contexts in today’s manufacturing practices. Yet at the same time they are restricting, limited by reach and payload, and in essence, incomplete. A robotic arm is a kind of positioner, but given a robust end effector or placed in relation to one, made to be useful. Indeed, the majority of research in robotic fabrication deals in some way with the development of a tool to complete and complement an arm. Thus the theme of the workshop will focus on the development of tools to append to the robot, less robust but more adept and potentially still productive, with the aim of transposing digital information into physical traces.

This workshop will introduce fundamental concepts of robotic fabrication and manufacturing over a series of modules whose aim is to gain familiarity with the range of skillsets and tools involved. The workshop will make use of the KR6 and KR10 with an end effector of the student’s design.

Each student will  develop a material process of their choosing, realize its execution through a series of mechanical and computational operations (i.e. make and simulate the tool), and deploy it to produce an artifact (ie, make something with the tool). With each module, students will build complexity and intelligence into their projects, such that the final deliverable is effectively an extended investigation across a semester. There will be regular meetings at RPL in the first half of the semester to gain familiarity with the machines, before migrating to the larger cell, and arm, at N51 (depending on student projects).

The final project will be the digital submission of a manual or guide to building your tool, in the manner of an “instructable”, that documents each step in its production and how to design with it (i.e.  constraints both material, formal, spatial) to make a physical artifact. Each student should be able to demonstrate proficiency in robotic toolpathing and simulation, electronic production and programming and metal machining.

1st meeting Wed, September 11, 2 pm (Room 3-412)