Robotic Arm Prefab Panels: A Proof of Concept
Prefabrication is a technique currently used in construction all over the world. The efficiencies of prefabrication allow for a more affordable and sustainable method of construction. This form of mass production is achieved through the use of modern technology, however, there is minimal customisation in these products for the end user.
Although automation has advanced in manufacturing, the growth of automation in construction has been slow. Robotic automation inherently allows for mass customisation. Robotic arms are flexible, accurate and easily programmable for discrete tasks. Coupled with a systematic computational environment to control them, they have the potential to transform how we build as well as respond to changes that the future may hold. Currently, there is no automation in the New Zealand building industry which offers a mass customised end product.
This research develops a system which can achieve mass customisation in prefabricated architecture. In order to achieve this, the use of parametric software and modern fabrication methods will develop a system which is able to fabricate architecture which is unique, while taking advantage of mass production efficiency in time, cost and lack of waste. The intended value of this research is to act as a proof of concept to the building industry in New Zealand.
Success of this concept could allow manufacturers to find value in further research in this field, allowing prefabrication to begin transitioning towards an automated industry.
This project is a scoping project to a) verify that current computational and robotic technology can be brought together to create a new method of production and b) identify issues for further development.
This research will act as a guidebook for future research into using robotics to achieve mass customisation in prefab panels by identifying the strengths and weaknesses of robotics and aiding the necessary shift in our construction industry from mass production to mass customisation.