Germany's Stuttgart University researches robotic prefabrication in timber construction, teams with robot arm manufacturer Kuka, timber engineering firm MüllerBlaustein, to develop thin plywood prototype into viable system for building industry

DUNEDIN, New Zealand , October 11, 2013 () – Researchers at the University of Stuttgart have developed a lightweight timber construction system combining robotic prefabrication with computational design and simulation processes, as well as three-dimensional surveying technologies used in engineering geodesy.

In collaboration with Kuka, a manufacturer of industrial robot arms, and the timber construction and engineering company MüllerBlaustein, the partners investigated the potential of robotic prefabrication in timber construction. Their goal was to develop innovative and sustainable construction systems made from wood, which also expand the repertoire of architectural expression in timber construction.

Small and medium-sized enterprises in Baden-Württemberg are leading the industry in the field for specialized timber construction. In the past, timber fabrication processes were focused on either manual work or mass production of single elements. Although these techniques are elaborate and efficient, they are also inflexible. This is the reason for an increasing amount of interest being shown in computational design and fabrication processes, as well as the use of industrial robots. Robotic fabrication substantially expands the range of manufacturing possibilities and offers more freedom for developing innovative, material-oriented and adaptive construction systems.

The University of Stuttgart plays a leading role in the research of lightweight structures. In the summer of 2011 the Institute for Computational Design (ICD) and the Institute of Building Structures and Structural Design (ITKE), together with students at the University of Stuttgart constructed a bionic research pavilion made of extremely thin plywood. The Research Pavilion, which has been widely published and awarded, demonstrated the constructional and architectural potentials of robotic fabrication in timber construction on a prototypical level. These preliminary works are now being translated into a robotically fabricated, lightweight construction system with a practical orientation towards the specific requirements of the building industry.

For more information visit www.uni-stuttgart.de

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