RoboSculpt: A Synergy Between Sculpture and Manufacturing
After a few months, the RoboSculpt project finally has a real example. Awhile back I blogged about a new project I had started for a digital fabrication class required of the MSDT students. When Wes McGee helped me cut some tests and I did some fiberglass layups, I gained some more excitement on the project. The normal semester took over most of my time, but towards the end I finally got to spend some time working on it. After a few design iterations of a chair I thought would be a good demonstration of the process, Jason Prasad at www.electronicdelectables.com helped me make some cut paths with mastercam and robot config. The two of us must have spent 30 hours one weekend just creating master cam files and cutting out the clay. It definitely would have gone faster if we had enough experience with mastercam, or if we were not so stuck on getting it to do exactly what we wanted. In the end it worked out, and we were able to get all the pieces cut properly. Jason had recently figured out how to run the robot, and through repetitiveness, I think I learned a bit. The fiberglass layup was another adventure. We did a few thin layups to get the form of the chair first, and then continued to do more after the two parts from the molds were combined. After thickening the fiberglass shell, I trimmed the edges with a jig saw and started sanding it down. The finishing of the fiberglass was more work than I would have hoped and never got it to a finish that I was truly happy with, but the point of making it was to cycle through the process and learn any flaws for next time. Hand layup with polyester resin was definitely a flaw. After talking to Wes, I plan on trying some epoxy layup using the vacuum bed, as well as trying out some resin spray guns to help with the process. I think for an industry setting, using a chopped matt spray gun would be the best solution as the robot could cut a mold, switch tools to a fiberglass spray gun, and easily build a strong shell. I will post later on any updates, for now, here are some process pictures of the project, as well as a video showing the robot in action. Enjoy.