The main idea here is to create digital surfaces that would correspond to their physical counterparts. The area of application is deformable surfaces. So, rather than layer sections to create a complex surface, we use “forces” (i.e. a physics engine) to deform the surface. The challenge is how do you then digitally manufacture this surface? Obviously we can layer and laser cut, but we are exploring a 1:1 correspondence of form genesis. Mainly, use the robot to actually push and deform a physical surface in exactly the same manner as the digital model. The robot motion control is directly exported from the digital motion of the object applying the force to the surface.

So, we created a planar surface in 3DS Max and applied a physics force from a digital sphere to it so it deforms.. then we captured the motion of the sphere acting on the surface and exported that path to the Kuka Robot language so it too can act on a ‘physical’ surface (a wire mesh in this instance). We then need to compare the results and calibrate (to be done, but first results suggest very close correspondence). This will open a new way to translate a doubly curved surface from a digital model to a physical object without layering (3D printing or laser cutting). It is a direct “form follows force” concept.

So, while the video is anticlimactic and not slick (please excuse the mess and the hanging wires), please note that the surface location and dimensions and pinned edges correspond exactly to a digital counterpart and the movements of the robot came directly from a path that a virtual sphere took while colliding with a virtual surface inside 3DS Max. The movement does not need to be normal to the surface, we can approach it from various angles.

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