Research ArticleARCHITECTURAL ROBOTS

Toward site-specific and self-sufficient robotic fabrication on architectural scales

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Science Robotics  26 Apr 2017:
Vol. 2, Issue 5, eaam8986
DOI: 10.1126/scirobotics.aam8986
  • Fig. 1 The DCP.

    (A) Full system with excavator attachment. (B) CAD rendering, top view. (C) CAD rendering, side view.

  • Fig. 2 Mechanical details of the DCP.

    (A) DCP with attached material carriage trailer, printing while driving. (B) Plot of measured trajectory from ISO 9283 pose repeatability characterization. (C) Endpoint localization sensor harness attached to end of KUKA. (D) Detail of photovoltaic panels, electrohydraulic pump, and hydraulic controls.

  • Fig. 3 Visual record of DCP toolpaths.

    (A) Macro arm moves between workspaces, whereas micro arm executes toolpath in each workspace to generate the MIT logo. (B) Micro and macro arms operate simultaneously to produce sinusoidal endpoint trajectory. (C) Range of motion of micro arm. (D) Range of motion of macro arm.

  • Fig. 4 PiP fabrication.

    (A) PiP wall section, with milled portion to improve surface finish and geometric accuracy. (B) Curved, 1-m-high wall section, finished with conventional ICF finishing techniques. (C) Hydrostatic pressure testing fixture for PiP and conventional ICF sections. (D) Surface waviness plots with summary statistics for PiP wall sample. (E) Example measured pressure curve from hydrostatic pressure testing experiments with PiP wall sections. (F) Artifact produced via casting into mold milled from PiP section, demonstrating feature resolution achievable in PiP foam. (G) Foam sprayer nozzles demonstrating dynamic mixing of foam dyes to colorize the foam. (H) Interior of colorized foam print, showing color gradients.

  • Fig. 5 Architectural-scale hemi-ellipsoidal dome section case study.

    (A) Open dome, top view. (B) View of horizontal bench structure, fabricated as an overhang feature without support material on the inside of dome wall. (C) Completed structure, side view. (D) Beginning of 3D print, showing DCP with trailer.

  • Fig. 6 Future worksite integrations for the DCP.

    (A) Rendering of DCP systems fabricating architectural-scale structure in urban environment, using combined PiP and robotic chain welding fabrication. (B) Manually fabricated welded chain stool structure. (C) Automated fabrication of welded chain structures using the DCP. (D) Rendering detail, showing DCP performing welded chain fabrication.

  • Table 1 DCP system performance specifications.
    Maximum radial reach (m)10.1
    Maximum vertical reach (m)14.1
    Maximum printable volume (m3)2,786
    MobileYes
    Type of mobilityTracks
    System weight (kg)3,700
    Photovoltaic chargingYes
    Power sourceBattery/plug-in/diesel
    System cost (USD)244,500
    Maximum driving speed (m/s)0.550
    Minimum driving speed (m/s)0.006
    Lift capacity at endpoint of boom (kg)158
    Lift capacity at endpoint of KUKA (kg)10
    Energy to charge DCP battery [kilowatt-hour (kWh)]12.9
    Energy to charge KUKA battery (kWh)3.6
    DCP runtime per battery charge (hours)6.5
    Platform width, outriggers compact (m)1.03
    Platform length, outriggers compact (m)5.92
    Platform height, outriggers compact (m)2.72
    Mean pose repeatability errorfor AT40GW (mm)13.2
    Mean pose repeatability SD AT40GW (mm)6.9
    Position resolution of KUKA (mm)0.06
    Maximum joint speedAT40GWKUKA
    Joint 1Joint 2Joint 3Joint 4
    8°/s6°/s6°/s120 mm/s225°/s
  • Table 2. Comparison of existing automated construction research.

    In many cases, data for metrics reported here were not directly available, and estimates have been made using other references. Please see text S4 for further explanation of methodology, particularly for entries marked with asterisks.

    Automated construction system nameDeveloperPrimary fabrication mediaQuantitative metricsQualitative metrics
    Largest fabricated structure (m3)Total work volume (m3)Typical volumetric fabrication rate (m3/hour)System classificationFabrication modalitySystem mobilityFabrication
    DCPMediated Matter—MITSpray-foam insulation formwork56527861.728ArmExtrusionMobileOn-site
    Apis CorApis CorConcrete extrusion3964340.375ArmExtrusionStaticOn-site
    In-Situ FabricatorETH ZurichBrick assembly9.7534.70.176ArmAssemblyMobileOn-site
    Hadrian 105Fastbrick RoboticsBrick assembly9.22459760.433ArmAssemblyMobileOn-site
    Guedel Gantry RobotERNE AG/ETH ZurichTimber assembly52.25560.718GantryAssemblyStaticOff-site
    BAAMCincinnati Incorporated/Oak Ridge National LaboratoryThermoplastic4.4232.30.033GantryExtrusionStaticOff-site
    3DCPEindhoven University of TechnologyConcrete extrusion1.251130.144GantryExtrusionStaticOff-site
    Concrete PrintingLoughborough UniversityConcrete extrusion0.861280.090GantryExtrusionStaticOff-site
    Contour CraftingUniversity of Southern CaliforniaConcrete extrusion0.1455.7*0.018GantryExtrusionStaticOff-site
    Flight Assembled ArchitectureETH ZurichFoam block assembly57.710000.375Swarm (aerial)AssemblyMobileOn-site
    MinibuildersInstitute for Advanced Architecture of CataloniaPolymer-bonded marble powder1.501.50*0.015Swarm (terrestrial)ExtrusionMobileOn-site

Supplementary Materials

  • robotics.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/full/2/5/eaam8986/DC1

    Text S1. ISO 9283-1998 pose repeatability characterization.

    Text S2. ISO 4287 surface roughness characterization.

    Text S3. Preliminary financial analysis of PiP construction.

    Text S4. Notes on estimations in construction robots comparison table.

    Table S1. ISO 4287 surface topography summary data.

    Fig. S1. Laser compensation enabling maintenance of constant aboveground height.

    Fig. S2. KUKA endpoint position during programmed oscillatory movement with laser sensor compensation vs. without laser compensation.

    Fig. S3. Electrohydraulic drivetrain.

    Fig. S4. Solid PV panels.

    Fig. S5. PiP mold filled with conventional concrete.

    Fig. S6. Foam deposition head for PiP fabrication.

    Fig. S7. Foam deposition head detail.

    Fig. S8. Empirical determination of optimal foam extrusion parameters.

    Fig. S9. Doubly curved geometries fabricated with PiP process.

    Fig. S10. Automated rebar tie inserter prototype.

    Fig. S11. Adhesion failure caused by excessive moisture on the printed surface from the dew condensation that occurred in the morning during printing.

    Fig. S12. KUKA robot arm with combined milling/PiP fabrication end effector.

    Fig. S13. Milled spray polyurethane foam mold used to produce concrete casting shown in Fig. 4F.

    Fig. S14. Range of color variation in spray polyurethane foam insulation.

    Fig. S15. Completed PiP dome.

    Fig. S16. The PiP dome was able to support human weight, even without any structural material (such as concrete) cast inside the formwork.

    Fig. S17. Fabrication of horizontally printed overhang feature.

    Fig. S18. Fabrication using direct welding deposition technique.

    Fig. S19. Concept computer renderings of future applications for DCP systems.

    Fig. S20. Excavation tests with the DCP demonstrating both subtractive site preparation and local material gathering.

    Fig. S21. A rollable photovoltaic panel was used for testing with the DCP to explore deployable large solar arrays for power self-sufficiency.

    Fig. S22. Radiation scanning using a Geiger counter mounted to the DCP to gather volumetric data around three radioactive sources.

    Fig. S23. Preliminary fabrication explorations with electrosintered powdered glass, thermally deposited ice structures, and compressed earth forms.

    Fig. S24. Balluff magnetostrictive sensors.

    Fig. S25. YUMO rotary encoder.

    Fig. S26. Sensor board that mounts at the end of the KUKA robotic arm.

    Fig. S27. DCP sensor architecture diagram.

    Fig. S28. HomePrint software interface.

    Fig. S29. DCP control architecture diagram.

    Fig. S30. Leica retroreflector mounted to the KUKA robotic arm on the DCP.

    Fig. S31. A selection of various DCP end effectors.

    Movie S1. Short video overview of the DCP.

    References (4366)

  • Supplementary Materials

    Supplementary Material for:

    Toward site-specific and self-sufficient robotic fabrication on architectural scales

    Steven J. Keating, Julian C. Leland, Levi Cai, Neri Oxman*

    *Corresponding author. Email: neri{at}mit.edu

    Published 26 April 2017, Sci. Robot. 2, eaam8986 (2017)
    DOI: 10.1126/scirobotics.aam8986

    This PDF file includes:

    • Text S1. ISO 9283-1998 pose repeatability characterization.
    • Text S2. ISO 4287 surface roughness characterization.
    • Text S3. Preliminary financial analysis of PiP construction.
    • Text S4. Notes on estimations in construction robots comparison table.
    • Table S1. ISO 4287 surface topography summary data.
    • Fig. S1. Laser compensation enabling maintenance of constant aboveground height.
    • Fig. S2. KUKA endpoint position during programmed oscillatory movement with laser sensor compensation vs. without laser compensation.
    • Fig. S3. Electrohydraulic drivetrain.
    • Fig. S4. Solid PV panels.
    • Fig. S5. PiP mold filled with conventional concrete.
    • Fig. S6. Foam deposition head for PiP fabrication.
    • Fig. S7. Foam deposition head detail.
    • Fig. S8. Empirical determination of optimal foam extrusion parameters.
    • Fig. S9. Doubly curved geometries fabricated with PiP process.
    • Fig. S10. Automated rebar tie inserter prototype.
    • Fig. S11. Adhesion failure caused by excessive moisture on the printed surface from the dew condensation that occurred in the morning during printing.
    • Fig. S12. KUKA robot arm with combined milling/PiP fabrication end effector.
    • Fig. S13. Milled spray polyurethane foam mold used to produce concrete casting shown in Fig. 4F.
    • Fig. S14. Range of color variation in spray polyurethane foam insulation.
    • Fig. S15. Completed PiP dome.
    • Fig. S16. The PiP dome was able to support human weight, even without any structural material (such as concrete) cast inside the formwork.
    • Fig. S17. Fabrication of horizontally printed overhang feature.
    • Fig. S18. Fabrication using direct welding deposition technique.
    • Fig. S19. Concept computer renderings of future applications for DCP systems.
    • Fig. S20. Excavation tests with the DCP demonstrating both subtractive site preparation and local material gathering.
    • Fig. S21. A rollable photovoltaic panel was used for testing with the DCP to explore deployable large solar arrays for power self-sufficiency.
    • Fig. S22. Radiation scanning using a Geiger counter mounted to the DCP to gather volumetric data around three radioactive sources.
    • Fig. S23. Preliminary fabrication explorations with electrosintered powdered glass, thermally deposited ice structures, and compressed earth forms.
    • Fig. S24. Balluff magnetostrictive sensors.
    • Fig. S25. YUMO rotary encoder.
    • Fig. S26. Sensor board that mounts at the end of the KUKA robotic arm.
    • Fig. S27. DCP sensor architecture diagram.
    • Fig. S28. HomePrint software interface.
    • Fig. S29. DCP control architecture diagram.
    • Fig. S30. Leica retroreflector mounted to the KUKA robotic arm on the DCP.
    • Fig. S31. A selection of various DCP end effectors.
    • Fig. S32. Thermoplastic fabrication end-effector and 3D printed structure made from acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS).
    • Legend for movie S1
    • References (4366)

    Download PDF

    Other Supplementary Material for this manuscript includes the following:

    • Movie S1 (.mov format). Short video overview of the DCP.

    Files in this Data Supplement:

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