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Design to Robotic Production Studio

  • Continuous Variation Workshop Series: Scalable Porosity
  • 6th to 17th of October 2014
  • TU Delft, Hyperbody

Continuous Variation Scalable Porosity Fall2014 Studio.jpg

Continuous Variation


Continuous variation is a series of workshops aimed at integrating different modes and methods of robotic fabrication into computational design processes in order to explore porosity and multi-materiality in architectural building systems. The first workshop, “Scalable Porosity”, focuses on developing design to production methods for introducing porosities at different layers and scales, ranging from micro levels, as material systems, to macro levels as spatial, structural and architectural configurations.

In general terms, porosity indicates the relationship between positive and negative, in other words, void spaces in materials, and is usually represented as a fraction of the volume of voids over the total volume (percentage). Porosity can be found in natural and artificial systems explored within, among others material, biological, engineering, and earth sciences. Depending on material system porosity may have changing patterns and may occur at different scales, which is the focus of this experimental design exploration.

The aim is to develop material patterns that by additive layering will generate variable porosities. In principle, these patterns may address a range of scales, where voids may vary in ranges of, to the building scale, where voids may vary in ranges of meter, indicating inhabitable spaces. Due to production process constraints within this exercise, the focus will be on the porosity ranges millimetre to centimeter achieved by means of robotic multi-material deposition.

Studio brief

In this studio we are aiming at developing and experiencing a design-to-robotic production process in order to design an outdoor urban furniture. As an architectural object the piece of urban furniture will provide the city and its citizens a unique place to seat, gather and shelter. For this exercise we are going to develop an adaptable and scalable building system that can be later applied at both larger and smaller scales. This means that the computational logic of the design process would consider design goals and considerations regarding material distribution both at macro and micro levels. At macro scale, the design will provide a meaningful scenario of porosity or openness and closeness at identifiable urban and human scales. At micro level this logic can be reflected on materiality, and the performative porosity pattern would control the material distribution and structural morphology. In this context, scalable porosity, which would be produced by means of a customized robotic design-to-fabrication process, would create integration of systems at different scales, from urban relations to structural and environmental integrity and from local ergonomic conditions to overall material deposition.

The size of this architectural object is bound to a maximum volume of four cubic meters with no limit for the dimensions at the beginning of the design process. The total material usage in this volume would be heterogeneous and continuously varied from point to point, based on the rules, logics and constraints that the computational design systems will define and suggest. In order to realize the aforementioned goals, we will start with three points in the bounding volume, in a way that each of these three points focuses on one to two essential design parameters ,such as structure, ergonomics, skin condition, etc. For each of these parameters there will be two initial design to robotic production experimentation phases, one with marker 2D drawing, for pattern studies and one with multi-coloured light 3D mapping, to study the macro level material distribution in the bounding volume. These two initial studies later would provide inputs for numerically controlled robotic material deposition, in this case coloured clay. Therefore, in parallel to the initial experimentations, through preliminary material studies such as customization of recipes, testing with different viscosities, etc. each group will methodically develop a customized materially informed design-to-production system.

Every group will produce, at the end of the first week, 1:2 scale prototypes and at the end of the second week 1:1prototypes. It is important to consider that purposeful alteration of the production system is also one of the goals of this workshop, therefore especially in the first week experiments, alongside the design development, students will customize the manufacturing process by combining multiple modes of fabrication and strategies. This process of customization can be realized through developing novel methods and innovative ideas for translating geometry to robotic motion. Material deposition must therefore be controlled through microcontroller boards and thus synchronized to the robotic motion path.

Studio Deliverables

  • Three Initial design-concept presentations on the defined targeted design parameters
  • Three pattern and material distribution systems with maker project
  • Three multi -material distribution systems with multi-coloured light 3D printing
  • Three 1/20-scale models of the design explorations with 3d printer in PLA
  • Three partial, ½ scale models of the final architectural object
  • Three demo videos showing the initial projects
  • Physical prototype of Selected parts of the final design
  • Final Booklet documenting all experiments as well as final design and prototype
  • Final video of the design to robotic production process

  • The formats of the deliverables will be discussed and defined in detail. In addition to the mentioned deliverables files, codes and models will be uploaded to the wiki and shared via our drop box folder in readable and neat formats.

Credits and Contributions

This workshop is supporting the design studio at Hyperbody ( ) and results will be exhibited at the 3rd RevXperience ( ). The workshop profits from the contribution of:

  • Workshop leaders: Henriette Bier, Sina Mostafavi
  • Workshop tutors: Sina Mostafavi, Ana Maria Anton, Serban Bodea
  • Workshop Guest lecturer: Joris Laarman
  • MSc 3 leaders and tutors: Kas Oosterhuis, Henriette Bier, Nimish Biloria
  • MSc 3 students: Berend Raaphorst, Guus Mostart, Hans de Jonge, J.M. van Lith, Jan Paclt, Kasper Siderius, Marco Galli, Michal Kornecki, Mohammad Jooshesh, Oana Anghelache, Perry Low, Radoslaw Flis, Rob Wilhelmus Christiaan Moors, Rutger Roodt, Ruth Hoogenraad, Stef Hoeijmakers, Steph Kanters, Thijs IJperlaan
  • Workshop contributors: ABB, 100% Research Office/BK, 3TU


Day Morning Afternoon
Mon. 6th of Oct.
  • • Introduction on design/workshop briefs ,opening Lecture/presentation 01by SM,AA,SB
  • • defining deliverables and objectives (Booklet, objects, video)
  • • Initial robot control: Jogging, TPU, USCs, Joints, TCP
  • • Introduction on robotics, General & architecture(ABB Robot Studio ,etc.) ,Lecture/presentation 02 by SM,AA,SB
  • • Group brainstorm sessions: on design systems, Robotic production systems & material systems
Tue. 7th of Oct.
  • • Teaming and discussions in groups (on form finding strategies, motion paths ,etc.)
  • • Introduction on end effector, (Arduino/extruder & synchronization) Lecture/Presentation 03 by SM,AA,SB
  • • Demonstration of the process (examples of marker, light, extruder (files to be ready))
  • • Concept presentation (integration of form-finding, robotic production system & materiality)
  • • Lecture by students and SM,AA,SB
Wed. 8th of Oct.
  • • Production system customization( customize effectors, production environment, Arduino, + materiality)
  • • Initial projects ( Files ready by groups, design to production tests with marker or light project)
  • • Groups timetables for production ( each group would have 1 hour)
  • • Design development ( Discussions with groups)
  • • Lecture and Critiques by HB (Robotic Building)
Thu. 9th of Oct.
  • • Physical models of design with 3d printer (certain cubic meter & hour)
  • • partial ½ tests of design with robot (each group will have 1 hour & certain cubic
  • • Preparing presentations of Friday (discussion with group on deliverables)
Fri. 10th of Oct.
  • • consolidation & integration (Objects: marker, Light, PLA, ½ clay & Presentations)
  • • Presentations (each group 15 minutes + 10 minutes critiques)
Mon.13th of Oct.
  • • Guest Lecturer Session
  • • Files of design to production ready for operation (CAD to Rapid)
  • • demo motion of robots for each groups (testing, reach, timing, singularities, etc.)
Tue. 14th of Oct.
  • • Production of ready designs
  • • Production of ready designs
Wed. 15th of Oct.
  • • Production of ready designs
  • • Production of ready designs
Thu. 16th of Oct.
  • • Debugging and Troubleshooting
  • • Debugging and Troubleshooting
Fri. 17th of Oct.
  • • Final Presentation (each group 15 minutes + 10 minutes critiques)
  • • All Deliverables ready (booklet, objects & videos presented and credited in right formats)