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‘Nyumtm’ – Robots in Construction

© GSS2019



Pune, India


Completed 2019

Robots in Construction’, a summer school initiative by IAAC, BNCA and D3LAB, took place in July 2019 at the Digital Fabrication Lab in Pune, India. Participants were engaged to rethink and repurpose the construction process through computation design and advanced robotic fabrication techniques. Karamba3D was utilised during the design process to study the behaviour of the robotic formed aluminium plate structure.

Text by GSS2019

Global Summer School 2019 (GSS2019) is a full-time two weeks course that provides both practical and theoretical knowledge. GSS2019 is organized by the Institute for Advanced Architecture of Catalonia (IAAC), Spain and D3LAB, India in collaboration with the Department of Digital Architecture at Dr. Bhanuben Nanavati College of Architecture Campus, Pune, India. Global Summer School program is a distributed education program around the world allowing a decentralized expansion of knowledge. As part of the program brief, the idea was to demonstrate the advanced robotic fabrication strategies by means of using six axis industrial robotic arm for the application in architecture and construction. Hence, a minimal lightweight installation was designed and executed , which was named ‘nyuntm’.

Base curves
Minimal surface generation
Minimal surface topology
Surface deformation

‘nyuntm’ is a Sanskrit word for minimal. The idea is to demonstrate complex geometries while exploring minimal surface structural design, that can have a double curvature surface form. As for the structural stability and material optimization, controlled deformation has been generated on the surface itself, that has been derived based on the surface curvature analysis. The surface deformation was inspired by the leaf venation patterns. The deformation strategically increases the structural capacity, particularly the rigidity and strength of the material itself, without adding additional structural members, . The actual size of the structure is 2.5 x 2.5 x 3.5 meters. For the fabrication and assembly strategies, the whole structure has been subdivided into 105 panels with overlaps to rivet them together to have seamless joineries for easy and fast execution. Each panel fits into 2 x 4 feet fixed frame table for the deformation to take place. That said around 26 full sizes (4 x 8 feet) aluminum sheets of 1.5 mm thickness were used.

Surface curvature
Panel subdivision
Karamba3d Displacement Analysis

To realize the design, a fabrication strategy is developed on the technique of robotic Single Point Incremental Forming (SPIF) to introduce rigidity in the thin metal sheet. SPIF is a progressive deformation technique for sheet metals, which is obtained by plastic deformation of thin sheets and low volume production applications that locally stretch the sheet out of plane increase structural depth, prevent lines of bending.

Due to the diverse nature of panels and process implementation, toolpath generation is a key topic in incremental sheet forming. A CAD/CAM workflow has been set up to achieve this highly versatile production demand. A six-axis robot with a payload of 30 kgs was used to form the sheets at a constant force of 48.19 N. This is performed with a constant Z vector and constant velocity between each point of deformation. With this setup, 50 machine hours were utilized to form a total of 13.7 m² of 1.5 mm thick aluminium sheet to form the structure. The material used for the entire structure is around 26 full size aluminium sheets. The total weight of the structure is 165 kg with scope for optimization.

‘nyuntm’ – light-weight structure installation – is the result of two intensive weeks of computational design to robotic execution, carried out by 20 participants from all over India. It is a proof of concept to demonstrate a series of methodologies looking to incorporate advanced design thinking, generative algorithms, and dynamic material feedback to existing industrial processes, accompanied by novel interfaces for robotic programming and large-scale automated construction.

IAAC – Institute for Advanced Architecture of Catalonia, Barcelona, Spain
Chirag Rangholia- Program Director Gss India Node, Kunaljit Chadha – Computational Design and Robotic Expert, Soroush Garivani – Computational Design, Vinay Khare – Animation
BNCA – Dr. Bhanuben Nanavati College of Architecture Campus, Pune, India
Deva Prasad – Computational Design and Robotic Expert, Swapnil Gawande – Computational Design and Coordinator
Assistants: Vinay Khare, Ripple Patel, Abhishek Sharma, Pratik Borse,

Students: Supreeth S Kumar, Anagha Arunkumar, Disha Katti, Jinal Shah, Rajalakshmi Rajesh Narayanan, Zeba Farheen Ansari, Akshatha P Palyam, Gunjan Baviskar, Dhanushree Prakash, Radhika Kulkarni, Varad Pagedar, Parikshith G Chouhan, Thangson Tombing, Disha Mogal, Nisharg Makani, Mitali Alkari, Ankita Mankar, Pranjal Gawade, Sadhana Khade, Harsh Patel
Video: Rohit K
Photographs: Chirag Rangholia, Swapnil Gawande