Introducing The BIM 360 Field Daily Update API
Project Alexandria is coming and Construction Document Management is about to change forever!

Robotic Fabrication Workshop

Summer time fun at Waltham office. There was a workshop about robotic arm fabrication at Waltham office this week, led by Nick Cote, summer intern and researcher in residence. 

The robot we used is ABB IRB-120. It’s a small industrial robot with a shape of “arm”, the height of 70cm (27.5 inch) and the weight of 25kg (55 pounds).

ABB IRB-120 Nick

Nick (right) introducing IRB-120 (left) during the workshop. 

As you may heard, Autodesk is moving to the Innovation and Design Building in Boston next spring. The new office will have a space called BUILD Space, where anybody can come and use the space for digital fabrication. This little robot arm will be joining that space, too. Right now, the robot is sitting in Waltham office.

Nick Cote, our resident Design Roboticist from Rhode Island School of Design (RISD), has kindly offered a hands-on workshops for us. We got a chance to use the robot arm to learn the basics of design robotics. We used a hot wire cutter and sculpted a block of expanded polystyrene (EPS) foam. We used Dynamo Studio for modeling. 

During the workshop, we learned how to: i) operate IRB-210, ii) calibrate the tool and work object, iii) design using Dynamo Studio, and finally iv) run the robot to cut a form. Below are a few photos from the workshop. 



My first attempt to use IRG-120 robotic arm to cut a form. A hot wire cutter is attached to the tip of the robot arm. In the photo, I displaced a upper portion of a form a little to show where I cut clearly.   


This is a graphical representation of the equation I used to cut the form. For my first try, I used 10 times wider interpolation. (In Dynamo code: y = -80..500..10; ang = y/Math.PI; x = 10 * Math.Cos(ang*5); z = 40 + 20 * Math.Sin(ang*x); ) This was the first time I used Dynamo Studio. 


If you cut the same form from different angles, you can make more complex shapes. Here Varvara tried more than once to cut the same form, resulting a nice "sculpture".


If you would like to find out more about what happens when a designer meets robot and math, check out Nick Cote's page here. I was asking Nick if he is bringing this robot to AU, and also any plan to connect with Fusion 360. He seems to be thinking about it. Looking forward to his future projects.  

When I first saw the announcement about this workshop, my initial thought was my old days in Detroit, Michigan. Along a long assembly line in an automobile factory floor, I saw countless robot arms working tactfully and diligently, placing parts, welding them together, and painting in different colors. It was quite impressive scene. At that time, I did not think such a robot would one day come so close to the act of designing itself, however.

As you can see from the above photos, we certainly had a lot of fun. Now that we learned how to use the machine, I hope to play with it more.

Lastly, when Autodesk opens Build Space, you can come and use this robot yourself, too! Hope to see you there in next spring!