This “Robotic Fabrication and Assembly Processes: Prototyping Construction Tools” design option studio (Fall 2019) investigated strategies for robotically-assisted construction processes combining conventional and emerging material technologies. Specifically, it focused on designing and prototyping of the task-specific robotic end-effectors (custom fabrication tools) for the ABB 4600 robotic arm. Students worked with embedded components (sensors, actuators, and microcontrollers) to design automated toolsets capable of performing particular construction assembly/fabrication tasks. These tasks mimicked human-labor abilities and proposed novel ways of assembling architecture. Students also used these custom-designed end-effectors with the robotic arm to produce simple construction assemblies.
The outcomes of the studio included a series of construction assemblies produced with student-designed end-effectors, functional prototypes of the end-effectors, and the documented demonstration of the robotic construction abilities. The student work was also covered by the Study Architecture blog and NJIT News.
Brick Laying End Effector
The project team: Meraj Nasi, Jalaysia Stevenson, and William Hall developed two end-effector modules (brick grippers) that were integrated with the (1) RGB color sensor and (2) radio frequency identification (RFID) sensor. These gripper enhancements allowed for more targeted selection and manipulation of bricks and construction components by being able to recognize and track individual bricks.
The team’s interest in working on a conventional brick assembly using unconventional tools and techniques originated from the observation that the brick laying jobs are highly labor demanding with a significant impact on workers’ health and well-being. To expand on the current state of the robotic construction approaches, not to replicate it, the team propose and integration of various sensors with conventional pneumatic grippers.
Dry stacking of wooden bricks
What’s New About This End Effector?
Students Jalaysia Stevenson NJIT’21 (left) and Meraj Nasi NJIT’21 (right) discuss their design for the color-sensing brick laying end effector. The TCS34725 RGB sensor allows the robotic arm to recognize components of a specific color or the range of colors.
An TCS34725 RGB color sensor was used to enable the gripper to distinguish between brick colors using Kelvin scale. In this video students test various color chips to set up appropriate tonal ranges for bricks. An RGB color sensor controls deployment of the gripper. In this video, the reddish color is set to actuate a pneumatic actuator. Other colors will not trigger the end effector.
The end-effector test deployed on the ABB 4600 robotic arm demonstrates color-based gripper actuation.
Stacking Patterns: Forms
Stacking Patterns: Geometry
End Effector: Design + Components
Clay Extruding End Effector
Project team: John Braun, Renzo Eseo, and David Skup NJIT’20 have developed pneumatically-powered clay extruder/3D-printing end effector. The team would like to extend sincere gratitude to Ms. Toni Boccanfuso for help with firing clay panels and providing guidance with clay glazing and processes.
Processes and Products
The first step in preparing for a clay extrusion exercise was to level the printing bed and test the pattern with a ball pen.
This video demonstrates clay 3D printing as a single layer deposition with a pattern interlocking to increase the structural strength of the final panel as well as to reduce panel deformations associated with the initial drying of the raw clay material. This is an clay extruding head close up video showing the speed and relative distances of between the depositing tip and the panel base.
Clay Extrusion: Components
Clay Extrusion: Material Preparation
Clay Extrusion: Practices and Considerations
Vincent Hu and Patrick Quinn researched robotically-controlled uncured concrete and plaster injections to shape surface expressions and material consistency as part of the Robotic Fabrication and Assembly Processes project.
Outcomes: Panels and Surfaces
Facade Panel Thermoforming
Ramez Hanna, Angela Micevska, and Steve Vivar developed robotically-controlled thermo-forming process for mass-customized facade panels as part of the Robotic Fabrication and Assembly Processes project.