The exploration of robotic subtractive fabrication processes with wood led to the development of a series of test on three different types of material connections.
The first one was based on the joints of Kengo Kuma’s Chidori Furniture. The development of a parametric model of the joint detail made possible the adaption of its geometry to non-orthogonal situations. This condition required cutting the wooden bars from different directions. This exploration was developed at the computational design level, and demonstrated with 3D printed models. The routines for the robotic cutting were investigated in the third test.
The second test aimed at investigating the connection between panels that meet in non-orthogonal directions. In the ICD’s 2011 Summer Pavilion, Achim Menges explored the production of finger connections to address this challenge. By taking this example, a series of computational models were developed to expand the tectonic possibilities of finger joints. The production of 3D printed models verified the geometry of the panels and their interlocking. One of the designes was used to test the robotic fabrication of the finger joint in a Valchromat panel.
The third test looked for designing and materializing a reciprocal structure made out of wooden bars. Designed in a non-planar condition, their connections became differentiated and distorted. The use of the robot was thus essential to solve this material connection. A series of 8 bars were thus cut in a single robotic milling operation.
This was a very opened experiment with wood connections. Given that cutting repetitive and orthogonal connections is as easy as cutting differentiated and slanted ones, the use of robotic technologies can make affordable the design exploration and construction of more complex wooden structures.