the world's most visited architecture website
i

Sign up now and start saving and organizing your favorite architecture projects and photos

Sign up now to save and organize your favorite architecture projects

i

Find the most inspiring products for your projects in our Product Catalog.

Find the most inspiring products in our Product Catalog.

i

Get the ArchDaily Chrome Extension and be inspired with every new tab. Install here »

i

All over the world, architects are finding cool ways to re-use run-down old buildings. Click here to see the best in Refurbishment Architecture.

Want to see the coolest refurbishment projects? Click here.

i

Immerse yourself in inspiring buildings with our selection of 360 videos. Click here.

See our immersive, inspiring 360 videos. Click here.

All
Projects
Products
Events
Competitions
Navigate articles using your keyboard
  1. ArchDaily
  2. News
  3. This 6-Axis Robot Arm Can 3D Print Fiberglass Composites

This 6-Axis Robot Arm Can 3D Print Fiberglass Composites

This 6-Axis Robot Arm Can 3D Print Fiberglass Composites
This 6-Axis Robot Arm Can 3D Print Fiberglass Composites, Atropos was developed by architects and engineers at the Politecnico di Milano's +Lab. Image Courtesy of Politecnico di Milano
Atropos was developed by architects and engineers at the Politecnico di Milano's +Lab. Image Courtesy of Politecnico di Milano

A team of architects and engineers at the Politecnico di Milano in Italy have unveiled Atropos, a six-axis robotic arm capable of printing continuous fiber composites. The one of a kind robot was developed by +Lab, the 3D printing laboratory at the Politecnico, who have taken inspiration from fibres found in the natural world. Through a technology known as Continuous Fiber Composites Smart Manufacturing, Atropos has the potential to create large, complex structures to aid the design and construction process.

The design team studied the behaviour of silkworms and spiders when developing the fiber-printing robot. Image Courtesy of Politecnico di Milano Quick-setting fiber resin negates the need for additional supports. Image Courtesy of Politecnico di Milano The six-axis robotic arm uses technology known as Continuous Fiber Composites Smart Manufacturing. Image Courtesy of Politecnico di Milano The process can produce elements ranging from centimeters to meters. Image Courtesy of Politecnico di Milano + 16

While developing Atropos, the Politecnico team drew inspiration from the natural world, studying the fiber-based behavior of spiders and silkworms. Consideration was also given to the fibrous workings of human muscles and tendons, resulting in a six-axis robotic arm with versatile movement, free from excessive mechanisms.

A UV source allows the fiber resin to dry quickly. Image Courtesy of Politecnico di Milano
A UV source allows the fiber resin to dry quickly. Image Courtesy of Politecnico di Milano
The six-axis robotic arm uses technology known as Continuous Fiber Composites Smart Manufacturing. Image Courtesy of Politecnico di Milano
The six-axis robotic arm uses technology known as Continuous Fiber Composites Smart Manufacturing. Image Courtesy of Politecnico di Milano

The journey towards an Atropos-made object begins with a computer model generated through the 3D modeling software Rhinoceros. Using the algorithms editor Grasshopper, the path and motion of Atropos are calculated, allowing the robotic arm to begin the 3D printing process. The material itself uses thermosetting plastic - not the thermoplastic more commonly found in 3D printing operations - with fiber embedded into th print. Currently, the process uses fiberglass, however the team is working on introducing other fibers such as carbon fiber.

The process can produce elements ranging from centimeters to meters. Image Courtesy of Politecnico di Milano
The process can produce elements ranging from centimeters to meters. Image Courtesy of Politecnico di Milano
Quick-setting fiber resin negates the need for additional supports. Image Courtesy of Politecnico di Milano
Quick-setting fiber resin negates the need for additional supports. Image Courtesy of Politecnico di Milano

As Atropos dispenses the print, the resin is hardened by a UV light source near the print head, in many cases removing the need for temporary supports. The Politecnico di Milano team have also envisaged ways to make the process scalable, enabling the production of everything from extremely small and precise structures, to large complex products for use by architects and engineers.

The design team studied the behaviour of silkworms and spiders when developing the fiber-printing robot. Image Courtesy of Politecnico di Milano
The design team studied the behaviour of silkworms and spiders when developing the fiber-printing robot. Image Courtesy of Politecnico di Milano

"Based on the results obtained and optimum implementation, we are confident of the possibility to effectively use this technology for additive manufacturing of high performance, lightweight products for markets where those characteristics are essential," explain the +Lab team in a press release. "These characteristics, combined with the ease of scaling, makes this technology unique and enables opening up new, unimaginable productive scenarios to the implementation of composites in the world of building construction."

The process can produce elements ranging from centimeters to meters. Image Courtesy of Politecnico di Milano
The process can produce elements ranging from centimeters to meters. Image Courtesy of Politecnico di Milano

The team behind Atropos are confident in its potential for use in architecture and construction. Continuous Fiber Composites Smart Manufacturing can create 3D objects from a CAD file without the need for a mold, enabling the quick, cost-efficient creation of complex shapes. If upscaled, the technology could generate components covering several meters, such as façade systems complete with internal trusses and cores.

News via: Politecnico di Milano

5 Robots Revolutionizing Architecture's Future

Robots fascinate us. Their ability to move and act autonomously is visually and intellectually seductive. We write about them, put them in movies, and watch them elevate menial tasks like turning a doorknob into an act of technological genius. For years, they have been employed by industrial manufacturers, but until recently, never quite considered seriously by architects.

View the complete gallery

About this author
Niall Patrick Walsh
Author
Cite: Niall Patrick Walsh. "This 6-Axis Robot Arm Can 3D Print Fiberglass Composites" 26 Mar 2017. ArchDaily. Accessed . <https://www.archdaily.com/867696/atropos-this-6-axis-robot-arm-can-3d-print-fiberglass-composites/> ISSN 0719-8884
Read comments
Atropos was developed by architects and engineers at the Politecnico di Milano's +Lab. Image Courtesy of Politecnico di Milano

可以打印玻璃纤维的六轴机械臂