Drone-based additive manufacturing of architectural structuresResearch, 2014 - Present
In collaboration with Professor Pierre Latteur and students from Université catholique de Louvain, this project investigates new possibilities for using unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), commonly called drones, in the fabrication of buildings and bridges. Preliminary work in this project has focused on the development of brick-like voxels, called droxels, that can be transported and assembled into stabile and geometrically complex structures by drones. Ongoing efforts include developing and implementing a parametric software framework that turns architectural geometry into assembly sequences and ultimately drone flight paths. This collaboration is funded in part by the MISTI MIT-Belgium program.
Structural lattice additive manufacturingResearch, 2015 - Present
The structural performance of traditional 3D-printed parts is typically limited by nature of the ayer-by-layer construction. Such parts are anisotropic due to decreased adhesion between layers and the internal structure is uniform, not flexible. This project seeks to overcome these limitations by printing along the edges of a stress-optimized lattice. With this approach, larger-scale, lightweight parts can be printed with an optimal structure that can vary depending on a loading configuration. The results of this project may be promising for diverse fields including concrete rebar design, spaceframe prototyping for buildings, and generative art.
The fabrication component of the project includes designing a custom extruder for a six-axis robotic arm that excels in printing along hard-to-reach toolpaths in free air, with larger nozzle diameters. To complement this technology, a computational tool is in development to generate lattices and toolpaths for any part and its loading configuration.
Robotics-enabled stress line additive manufacturingKam-Ming Mark Tam, Caitlin Mueller, James Coleman, and Nicholas Fine, Rob|Arch 2016: Robotic Fabrication in Architecture, Art and Design 2016, 2016 (In press)
The presented research uses a 6-axis industrial robot arm and a custom-designed heated extruder to develop a new robotic additive manufacturing (AM) framework for 2.5-D surface designs that adds material explicitly along principal stress trajectories. AM technologies, such as fused deposition modelling (FDM), are typically based on processes that lead to anisotropic products with strength behaviour that varies according to filament orientation; this limits its application in both design prototypes and end-use parts and products. Since stress lines are curves that indicate the optimal paths of material continuity for a given design boundary, the proposed stress-line based oriented material deposition opens new possibilities for structurally-performative and geometrically-complex AM, which is supported here by fabrication and structural load testing results. Called stress line additive manufacturing (SLAM), the proposed method achieves an integrated workflow that synthesizes parametric design, structural optimization, robotic computation, and fabrication.