Jul 8, 2022
In an attempt to showcase the work of researchers to a wider public, digitize wood along with IntCDC and Holzbau-Offensive BW took part in the Stallwächterparty on July 7 in Berlin and presented a demonstration of modern timber construction, with the mobile robot platform "TIM - Timber Platform for Robotic Construction" and the exhibition stand "Fancy Fence" made of stacked wooden slats.
Using the robotic platform designed for mobile use and pre-production of wooden building elements, the team made a wooden table that evening to match the stand. The already prefabricated tables not only served as bar tables for the guests during the champagne reception, but also as lecterns for the Baden-Württemberg Minister President Winfried Kretschmann, State Secretary Rudi Hoogvliet and Thomas Strobel, Deputy Minister President and Minister of the Interior, for their welcoming speeches.
Researchers gave an additional axis to the 6-axis Robot by mounting it on a linear axis, allowing it therefore to move between more than one applications.
During the demonstrations, the robot ran on a slower mode than in industries for safety reasons. It was managed by researchers through the use of a control unit. Dr. Felix Amtsberg, a researcher at IntCDC, and Hans-Jakob Wagner, a research associate at IntCDC, were both very proficient in controlling it and programming it to take prepared laths, place them precisely on top of each other, and fix them together with wooden nails.
In fact, one of the different functions of the end effector was that of a vacuum gripper. It repetitively took the laths and located them in the referenced place. After the placement, the end effector would change its function to one of nailing. Hard-wood nails were used as lanyards between the wooden sticks.
The use of the end effector wouldn’t be possible without The Institute for Control Engineering of Machine Tools and Manufacturing Units (ISW), Universität Stuttgart, (ISW). In fact, Alexander Verl and Benjamin Kaiser, both from ISW, were jointly responsible for the planning of the entire plant and Benjamin Kaiser for the integration of the end effector for the 6axis robot arm.
The set-up was prepared by the exhibition team with the support of the robotic arm. The monitor weighed more than 200kg and had to be carried and placed by the robot arm. It was a successful robot-human interaction proving that some tasks could be better achieved when humans work alongside robots.
Through this demonstration, one can see how innovative automation and digitization strategies and technologies from other branches of industry can be further developed for the special requirements of timber construction.
The bigger aim behind this demonstrator is to transfer the potential of Industry 4.0 to robotic prefabrication in timber construction and to develop new production processes that will trigger a paradigm shift.
Another highlight was the raffle of 300 cell phone holders made of self-shaping wood using the anisotropic and hygroscopic characteristics of wood to perform a controlled deformation. In fact, the fibers found in wood have the natural capacity to shrink or expand depending on the surrounding humidity. Wood can therefore change shape at large scales allowing therefore for self-shaping manufacturing processes.
As a research associate at IntCDC, Laura Kiesewetter, Co-founder of Hylo Tech, uses this technology to develop self-shaping furniture, high performance building components and adaptive systems.
For the Stallwächterparty, she designed mobile phone holders that will self-shape after being unwrapped from their vacuum packaging. During the event, a tombola was organized where it was possible for guests to win these phone holders and have a closer interaction with more detailed explanation from the researchers.
This all happened at the 57th Stallwächterparty - the political summer party of the Baden-Württemberg State Representation in Berlin - around 50 companies and research institutions from Baden-Württemberg presented future technologies under the motto "The Länd - Transformation Innovation Inventions" on July 7, 2022. Among them was the Cluster of Excellence Integrative Computational Design and Construction for Architecture (IntCDC) at the University of Stuttgart. In cooperation with Holzbau-Offensive BW, the platform digitize wood and BEC, IntCDC presented digital planning and production of modern timber construction. The event was attended by approximately1,500 guests from politics, media, culture, the business sector, and the general public.