Digital Wood Production

Wood is an easy material to craft. By using robots more design freedom can be realized. Robots are used to create special details or a range of parametric optimized elements. They also help during construction by holding elements on the exact correct location and connecting them into a complete structural model.

Timber reciprocal frame structures 

Tom Godthelp

Timber Reciprocal Frame structures (RFs) beautifully express pure structural design. Its structural principle relies on compression and tension interaction between neighboring members creating a self-supporting structure, ideally, without the need of intricate connections.

Until now, a combination of RF form finding that regards both geometrical and structural design (including connections) has not yet been developed. Although researchers developed computational form finding methods to create geometrical solutions and described the global structural design, computational complexity may have prevented a direct inclusion of detailing in the overall design. This graduation research introduces a complete design to production procedure for timber RFs.

With the advent of climate change, increase of material cost, and scarce of material. Timber RFs may again prove to be a promising building solution in structural design.

For more information see YouTube

Robotic timber connection

Joren van Laar

Formerly craftsman architecture was a popular section in the building sector. Besides the strength of a joint, also the assembly and appearance were important. However, when mass production became more important, the hand-made detail almost disappeared in architecture. In recent years computational design and production possibilities increased tremendously, which made making complex joints possible again.

First a structural scheme was defined. As the existing joints are mostly used for compression, and sometimes some tension, a truss was chosen as a scheme. A few timber joints were designed, and the best option was optimized. The used materials are LVL with crossed laid veneers to resist the stresses perpendicular to the grain. The possibilities and the limits of the joint were discussed, and two possible applications were elaborated. Eventually the designed connection was fabricated by the robot. In theory the complete joint was milled by the robot and then assembled as well. Due to restrictions of the robot eventually only the model was milled in foam. Afterwards a test model was made in LVL by a CNC-machine, which was eventually tested in a tensile test.

Creating timber elements with robots

Dolf Muijres

The goal of the research was to create a timber scale model which was constructed with a robotic arm.

The robotic fabrication part focused on understanding how the robot works. The robotic tasks where programmed in grasshopper with the plugin RobotComponents. This component creates a robot path through defined target planes. Simply put, it says to the robot go from point A to point B with speed X. The simulation program RobotStudio was used to test these robot tasks. The complexity of the tasks was increased step by step to monitor and understand the behaviour of the robot.

The timber structure part focused on creating an optimized model of a timber structure. This started with a parametric design created in grasshopper. Oasys GSA was used to perform the structural checks. Geometry Gym was used to connect grasshopper with GSA. The data was scripted in a way that everything changed automatically if a parameter was changed. This led to a fast optimization phase.

The last step was to create a scale structure of the optimized model. Unfortunately, because of the covid-19 pandemic it was not possible to create a full robotic assembly. So the parts where robotically fabricated, but manually assembled.

Project Humble Fleggs

Pim van Rijsbergen, Kars Raymakers and Nikola Deliatanasov

Project “Humble Fleggs” is a conceptual design for a transportation hub on the TU/e campus that focuses on rethinking the future of transportation. The overall theme of this particular project is health which is considered in the indoor conditions, encouragement of sports, implementation of greenery and in general by using the egg as a conceptual starting point that symbolizes life giving conditions. The design uses the structural benefits of the egg-shape by applying it in a dome configuration, creating a large open space. By using Grasshopper, a parametric design is made that consists of multiple overlapping egg-domes with varying scales for an interesting composition.
The domes have a structural exoskeleton made from glue-laminated curved beams that are connected to a circular tension beam at the tops. A façade of glass panels and timber cladding is located between the beams. The cladding acts as a support for creeper plants to create a green indoor façade.
To make the fabrication process more efficient the glulam elements all follow the same type of curvature and only differ in scale. They can be curved using a CNC (Computer Numerical Control) machine allowing for more flexibility in element shapes.