A Bridge Too Far

The robotic incremental sheet metal forming process is used to turn out small batches of building components. This entails deployment of two standard industrial robots working independently on the basis of CAD data to create the desired metal geometry. The robot arms move a simple tool over the surface of a piece of sheet metal to cause a localized plastic deformation. This approach to digital fabrication opens up new possibilities for the mass-customization of rigidized panels for use in architecture.

A Bridge Too Far demonstrates how this can be done. The 3.5-meter-long bridge is only 0.5 mm thick yet it can support a load of up to 100 kg. This structural capability is entirely dependent on the local deformations within, and connections between, the upper and lower panels. This geometry was not designed in a conventional way; rather, it is the result of a digital modeling approach that combines generative design algorithms with the calculation of small-scale local strains and thicknesses.

Credits:

This research was done at the Centre for IT and Architecture (CITA), KADK, as part Complex Modeling, a Sapere Aude Advanced Grant research project supported by the Danish Council for Independent Research.

It was carried out in collaboration with Bollinger + Grohmann consulting engineers, KET at Berlin University of the Arts, SICK Sensor Intelligence Denmark, and Materials Science and Engineering at Monash University.

Project staff: Paul Nicholas, Mateusz Zwierzycki, Esben Clausen Nørgaard, Scott Leinweber, Christopher Hutchinson and Riccardo La Magna.