Behavioral Bending

This workshop will deploy robotic rod bending, robotic welding and robotic assembly, together with computer vision and algorithmic feedback response within a fabrication workflow that includes the synchronized production, handling, and assembly of uniquely bent parts to test and demonstrate the concept of Adaptive Part Variation (APV). APV is an extension of craft based practices where parts are created or modified during sequential assembly processes to fit the accumulating scenario. This process is particularly well suited to the inherent variability of Numerically Controlled fabrication when acting in combination with sensor measurement, computational design and file-to-factory workflows.

The workshop is based at the University of Michigan’s Taubman College of Architecture Preservation and Planning and will make use of their workcell comprising two Kuka KR120HA 6-Axis industrial robots connected via ROBOTEAM, Kuka’s application for synchronising the motion of multiple robots. The first robot uses a collet-gripper to tend a floor-mounted bender with integrated shear with each controlled as an external axis. A laser range-finding sensor, mounted to the end effector of this robot, serves as the primary means by which the system gathers information about its environment. Iterative online communication and a localization technique using parallel scanning toolpaths allow comparisons between the designed and realised geometry. This in turn allows for subsequent modifications to future parts and to the process of assembly: behavioral response.

Location: University of Michigan

What participants can expect to learn in this workshop

Participants will be introduced to the concepts of robotic programming, formation embedded design, computer vision, as well as designing programmed responses to construction tolerances. By working with SuperMatterTools [sMT], a custom robotic control platform written in Python for Rhino, participants will gain insight into the many ways of defining robot motion, of translating geometry into instruction code and to the factors leading to the choice between methods. sMT will directly output usable KRL (KUKA Robot Language), complete with instructions for each of the robot`s movements as well as communication with output devices, and communication with the generative environment (Rhino). Additional code libraries will be provided to assist with design development.

Participants will work in groups towards the design, instruction code generation, simulation, prototyping, revision, fabrication and welded assembly of their project within the 3-days ́of the workshop. A custom controlled CNC robotic bender, shear, pneumatic gripper, and MIG welding torch will beused to bend, place, and weld each unit in the assembly.


Familiarity with Rhino 5.0.
Programming skills, especially in Python, are not necessary but will be extremely helpful.
Participants are required to bring their own laptops with a working copy of Rhino 5 (Windows version only) installed. The SuperMatterTools code library will be provided by workshop presenters.

Robotic Specification

– 2x Kuka KR120HA 6-Axis Industrial Robots
– External CNC tended Bender
– Custom End Effectors, including pneumatic gripper, MIG welding torch, and laser range finder

Workshop Schedule

Day 1
Introduction to fabrication process, description of precedent projects, and discussion of production constraints. Distribution of Robotic Control Software (SuperMatterTools) and installation of necessary libraries for  to allow  the importation of the process of assembly back into the generative (Rhino) environment. Introduction to implementing corrective behavior which responds to actualized tolerances.
Robotic Fabrication of a bent and welded table. Each Group will design a set of interdependent polylines that leverages the material and process constraints towards the production of performance and character. Ideally, an object oriented model will be developed in python which indicates the construction sequence and dependencies. This algorithmic framework will utilize pre-existing script libraries.

Day 2
Individual support for task 1 (computational design in python).  Each groups designs will be tested through simulation and then physical prototyping in unit and aggregated scale for collisions and fabrication viability. A computational strategy for generating necessary tool paths and placing each part will be developed. Design critiques will help to finalize the designs for production.

Day 3
Each group with have time on the robot to construct their final designs. Additional support will be allocated for trouble shooting.

Workshop Presenters

Dave Pigram – supermanoeuvre + University of Technology, Sydney
Dave Pigram is co-director of supermanoeuvre and Director of the Master of Advanced Architecture program at the University of Technology, Sydney. Dave was a project team leader for Studio Daniel Libeskind and has taught at Columbia University and the Pratt Institute, New York; the Architectural Association, London; Princeton University; TU Delft, the Institute of Advanced Architecture Catalunya and many others.

Iain Maxwell – supermanoeuvre + University of Technology, Sydney
Iain Maxwell is co-director of supermanoeuvre, a registered architect and a senior lecturer at the University of Technology, Sydney. Max has extensive project experience in the offices of Amanda Levete (Future Systems), Grimshaw and Populous. He has taught at the London Metropolitan University, the Architectural Association School of Architecture (AA), AA Visiting School Berlin and Sydney, Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (RMIT), University of Technology Sydney (UTS) and the Institute of Advanced Architecture Catalunya. In 2007, Max was awarded the Royal Australian Institute of Architects Young Architect Prize.

Lauren Vasey –
Lauren Vasey is researcher with a background in engineering and is a graduate of the University of Michigan’s Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning. Lauren was a contributor to the robotic fabrication research program at Michigan, and has taught several scripting and robotic workshops. Most recently she has worked at the ETH Zurich under Matthias Kohler and Fabio Gramazio, Chair for Architecture and Digital Fabrication.