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Integrated design-for-manufacturing and AR-aided-assembly workflows for lightweight reciprocal frame timber structures

Abstract

This paper presents a novel workflow for the design, robotic fabrication and assembly of lightweight timber structures based on a reciprocal frame structural principle. The described method expands existing research in the field by demonstrating a unified mesh-based workflow throughout the form-finding, manufacturing and assembly phases, as well as applications of augmented reality (AR) at several process stages. A case study in the design and construction of a prototypical self-supporting lightweight timber structure is presented. The process illustrates the dynamic transfer of data between various design, analysis and manufacturing simulation environments through the use of a common lightweight skeletal model and a just-in-time approach to manufacturing geometry creation. As such, the method serves as an example of Fabrication Information Modelling (FIM), an approach characterized by the synthesis of multiscale, interdisciplinary geometric representations, material properties, and fabrication parameters.

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Code availability

The Axis Robot Control Framework (RCFs is accessible to the public at github.com/AxisArch/Axis.git as well as axisarch.tech/framework. We currently support the online and offline control of ABB and KUKA robots as well as experimental features for UR. We encourage other researchers to leave feedback or contribute to the project. Sample files for the geometry generation and robot control setup are available upon request.

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Acknowledgements

The authors would like to thank Aarhus School of Architecture and Paramateria for their invitations to teach workshops as part of their educational programs, through which the prototype was made possible, as well as HNE Eberswalde and Ligas Berlin for their generous support in hosting and financing the prototype construction. Additionally, we would like to thank Tassilo Goldmann and Tim Peters for their material knowledge and assistance in production.

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Correspondence to Ryan Hughes.

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Hughes, R., Osterlund, T. & Larsen, N.M. Integrated design-for-manufacturing and AR-aided-assembly workflows for lightweight reciprocal frame timber structures. Constr Robot 5, 147–157 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s41693-020-00048-3

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Keywords

  • Design for manufacturing and assembly
  • Architectural robotics
  • Augmented-reality-aided assembly
  • Human–robot interaction
  • Reciprocal structures
  • Lightweight timber