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emv10@psu.edu - Penn State - State College  PA

Robotic Weaving
Academic project. Machines Session class. Elena Vazquez and Nasim Motalebi
The project consisted the weaving of cotton threads through the pins of a handcrafted metallic chair, creating the seat of the chair. The exploration was aimed to assess the flexibility (or lack thereof) between the crafted frame and the automation of the robotic weaving, due to the definiteness nature of the in robotic fabrication. Within this framework, the design of the chair comes first with the definition of the weaving pattern, establishing the “weaving tool” to be attached to the robot’s end effector. Secondly, the toolpath was established in a digital environment in Grasshopper and HAL, allowing to simulate the sequence of movements to be performed and check for conflicting points. Then the program generated by the mentioned software could be tested first by tracing the path using LED lights, before the actual tests with the tool attached and the materials.
The project finalized successfully with the fabrication of the chair, allowing to draw several reflections on the use of robots in digital fabrication. The distance between design and robotic fabrication is necessarily shortened by the need to reevaluate and redesign the project per the actual material conditions. This does not constitute a problem, because it allows the designer to become familiar with the tool, the robot, and understand the constrains and possibilities it allows. Also, it is important to mention that craft practices may be integrated into robotic fabrication as long the tool allows for variability. In other words, the tool becomes as flexible as the designer decides it to be as it becomes, in a sense, the extension of the arm in a new digital craft.