In Spatial Timber Assembly (STA), robotic arms fabricate and assemble wooden parts into extremely complex geometric buildings and rooms - spaces that were previously impossible to build with timber. See the robots motion-cut, lift, translate, rotate, and move around below.
 
The system's Swiss developers, hailing from ETH University in Zurich, say STA buildings last longer, are more solid, and can be exponentially more complex than traditional wooden construction. Architects would be able to use wood to create buildings in any desired shape.
 
How it works:
 
The robots use information from a computer-aided design model to cut and arrange the timber beams. The robot first takes a timber beam and guides it while it is sawed to size. After an automatic tool change, a second robot drills the required holes for connecting the beams. In the final step, the two robots work together and position the beams in the precise spatial arrangement based on the computer layout. To prevent collisions when positioning the individual timber beams, the researchers have developed an algorithm that constantly recalculates the path of motion for the robots according to the current state of construction. Workers then manually bolt the beams together.
 
Unlike traditional timber frame construction, STA can manage without reinforcement plates because the required rigidity and load-bearing result from the geometric structure. Not only does this save material; it also opens up new creative possibilities. 
 
Humans would have never been able to precisely position these wooden parts into these positions on their own without significant effort, the researchers say.
 
A total of six spatial, geometrically unique timber modules will be prefabricated in this way for the first time at a construction site in Dübendorf, Switzerland, where they will be joined to build a two-story residential unit with over a thousand square feet of floor space. The team also hopes to make STA the industry-standard and is currently in talks to commercialize.
 
Photos by NCCR Digital Fabrication
 
 
 
 

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