Compound Fabrication: A Multi-Functional Robotic Platform for Digital Design and Fabrication

June 13, 2013

Steven J. Keating


Supporting various applications of digital fabrication and manufacturing, the industrial robot is typically assigned repetitive tasks for specific pre-programmed and singular applications. We propose a novel approach for robotic fabrication and manufacturing entitled Compound Fabrication, supporting multi-functional and multi-material processes. This approach combines the major manufacturing technologies including additive, formative and subtractive fabrication, as well as their parallel integration. A 6-axis robotic arm, repurposed as an integrated 3D printing, milling and sculpting platform, enables shifting between fabrication modes and across scales using different end effectors. Promoting an integrated approach to robotic fabrication, novel combination processes are demonstrated including 3D printing and milling fabrication composites. In addition, novel robotic fabrication processes are developed and evaluated, such as multi-axis plastic 3D printing, direct recycling 3D printing, and embedded printing. The benefits and limitations of the Compound Fabrication approach and its experimental platform are reviewed and discussed. Finally, contemplation regarding the future of multi-functional robotic fabrication is offered, in the context of the experiments reviewed and demonstrated in this paper.

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